Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 11, 2009


Transform Drugs - The largest ever study of cocaine use around the globe was carried out in the early 90's by the UN World Health Organization and funded by the UN Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute, but under pressure from the US its publication was suppressed when it became clear the report's findings were in direct conflict with the myths, stereotypes and propaganda that prop up the war on drugs .

In March 1995 WHO/UNICRI released a briefing kit summarizing the key conclusions:

- "Health problem; from the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater than health problems from cocaine use.

- "Few experts describe cocaine as invariably harmful to health. Cocaine-related problems are widely perceived to be more common and more severe for intensive, high-dosage users and very rare and much less severe for occasional, low-dosage users."

In a classic example of what happens when public health pragmatism collides with criminal justice dogma, just two months later, at the 48th World Health Assembly, the US representative to the WHO threatened to withdraw US funding for WHO research projects unless they 'would dissociate itself from the conclusions of the study' . . .

It's easy to see why the US would be so opposed to the study being published as it not only challenges a number of myths and stereotypes about cocaine use, but it is highly critical of a number of US-backed policies. The report specifically highlights the criticism that supply reduction and enforcement policies are not working and that alternatives needs to be explored:

"The largest future issue is whether international organizations, such as WHO and the United Nations Drug Control Program, and national governments will continue to focus on supply reduction approaches such as crop destruction and substitution and law enforcement efforts in the face of mounting criticism and cynicism about the effectiveness of these approaches. . .

"The studies identified strict limitations to drug control policies which rely almost exclusively on repressive measures. Current national and local approaches which over-emphasize punitive drug control measures may actually contribute to the development of heath-related problems. An increase in the adoption of more humane, compassionate responses such as education, treatment and rehabilitation programmes is seen as a desirable counterbalance to the overreliance on law enforcement measures." . . .

The study also points out that 'anti-drug' campaigns are not necessarily effective, especially mass media campaigns based on scare tactics;

"Despite a broad range of educational and prevention approaches, most programs do not prevent myths but perpetuate stereotypes and misinform the general public. Such programs rely on sensationalized, exaggerated statements about cocaine which misinform about patterns of use, stigmatize users, and destroy the educator's credibility. This has given most education campaigns a naive image and has reduced confidence in the quality and accuracy of these campaigns. . . "

With regards to who uses cocaine, the study says:

"It is not possible to describe an 'average cocaine user.' An enormous variety was found in the types of people who use cocaine, the amount of drug used, the frequency of use, the duration and intensity of use, the reasons for using and any associated problems they experience."


Anonymous robbie said...

Things like that make me really believe in "the system" It's no wonder why I don't trust the government. There's nothing to trust.

June 12, 2009 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the monkeys want to do it, but half the monkeys spend their time telling the other monkeys they can't.

June 12, 2009 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading similar findings in Scientific American during high school, back in the 70's. The problems this drug causes are often financial and social - so many addictive personalities and "more is better" attitudes, along with the addictive nature of the drug have impacted many lives negatively.

June 12, 2009 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Elvin Bishop said...

" My wife said some men bring their wives
money and furs and jewelry.
I come home without a dime
smellin' like a brewery.
I'm drunk again.
I been drinkin' Gordon's gin.
I tried to quit but it ain't no use.
I just can't cut that juice aloose.

June 13, 2009 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Elvin Bishop said...

Gin has got me to the point
I don't know what to do.
My wife has quit me
and my girlfriend too.
I'm drunk again. I been drinkin' Gordon's gin...

June 13, 2009 11:08 PM  

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