Friday, February 19, 2010

Death penalty more dangerous than drugs

European drug law reformers are targeting the use of mandatory death penalties for people with drug convictions in Malaysia and many other countries:


From March 8 to 12, 2010 during the yearly meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, governments from all over the world will once again declare their support to the global fight against drugs, i.e. the substances that were prohibited worldwide by a UN Convention in 1961.

In Malaysia, as in 21 other countries in the world, people who use or possess relatively small quantities of drugs, including cannabis, are sentenced to death. These sentences are mandatory: judges have no possibility to invoke any extenuating circumstance. Furthermore, the usual burden of proof is reversed so that an individual is presumed to be guilty unless he or she can prove otherwise.

International Conventions on Human Rights, various UN Human Rights Bodies and the UN Secretary General have expressed that the “death penalty should only be considered in cases where the crime is intentional and results in lethal or extremely grave consequences, not in cases of economic, non-violent or victimless offences. In those cases a death sentence may be considered as an arbitrary execution.”

The use, sale or trafficking of drugs is not intended to have a lethal outcome. People use drugs to feel good or to feel better, and as long as there is a demand there will always be a supply. Also in Malaysia, drug use has continued to rise in spite of the death penalty. The people who are occasionally caught by authorities do not have major responsibilities in this business. Killing them will not scare the drug gangs away. On the contrary: thanks to these punishments, the leaders in the drug business can continue to justify extraordinary high prices for their goods

Legitimized by the United Nations, drug prohibition continues to drive repressive policies and legislation including death sentence. These policies are typically rooted in moral in stead of rational arguments, and impede the development of progressive and effective responses to any problems that the use of drugs may cause.

-- From the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD)

1 comment:

biff said...

Legalise cannabis, says drug expert

* By Vincent Morello
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* February 19, 2010 12:00AM

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o What are these?

CANNABIS is easier to buy than a pizza, says a drug expert, so why not legalise and tax it to benefit everyone?

Dr Alex Wodak, the director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, says cannabis will soon be Australia's smoke of choice.

"In a few years time, we'll have more Australians smoking cannabis than we have smoking tobacco and by default that market is largely taken over by criminals," Dr Wodak told AAP.

"Having a black market of that size is not good for anybody and inevitably big black markets can only survive if there's significant police corruption."

Dr Wodak delivered the keynote address at the Australian Drug Law and a Civil Society symposium at the Lismore campus of Southern Cross University on Thursday.

He also heads the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
Related Coverage

* Shopper swiped in carpark hit and run Perth Now, 18 Jan 2010
* Drug czar wanted marijuana legalised Daily Telegraph, 14 Jan 2010
* Don't endanger yourself The Australian, 27 Nov 2009
* $360k of cannabis found outside house Daily Telegraph, 25 Nov 2009
* Marijuana a tax goldmine The Australian, 1 Nov 2009

End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

"At the moment, we have no control over cannabis at all because the trade is run by criminals," he said from Lismore.

"By taxing and regulating it, we would start to have some influence over the way people use cannabis.

"Overall, the aim should be to try and reduce the harm."

Cannabis prohibition was expensive and ineffective, Dr Wodak said, with surveys showing up to 2.5 million Australians will smoke cannabis in 2010.

"It's easier for most Australians to purchase cannabis than to buy a pizza - it's a readily available substance," he said.

Dr Wodak said legalising cannabis and regulating it could be carried out similar to what happens in the alcohol and tobacco industries.

"We could have warning labels on packets, we could have age restrictions - we could also have help-seeking information if you're trying to cut down or stop," he said.

Dr Wodak said research had shown punishing people for possessing cannabis does not inhibit their desire to keep using the drug.

"We've proved that we've stimulated a huge black market for cannabis in Australia by prohibition," he said.

He quoted polls in the United States showing support for legalising cannabis had climbed from 12 per cent in 1969 to 44 per cent in 2009.

"I think the minute that politicians start to see that 51 per cent of the population is supporting the taxation and regulation of cannabis, they'll take 10 seconds to work out that's what they want too," Dr Wodak said.

He also expects a legal international trade in cannabis to develop one day, but acknowledged making cannabis a legal drug in Australia and overseas will happen incrementally.