Bolivia's President Defends Right to Chew Coca
At the meeting of the UN Commmission on Narcotic Drugs that opened today in Vienna, Bolivian President Evo Morales held up a coca leaf and defended -- to applause -- the right of Bolivians to grow and chew the plant:
Morales said that chewing coca leaves was an "ancestral right" for Bolivians. "We are not drug addicts when we consume the coca leaf. The coca leaf is not cocaine, we have to get rid of this misconception," he said in a speech that ended with applause from the hall.
"This is a millennia-old tradition in Bolivia and we would hope that you will understand that coca leaf producers are not drug dealers."
U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerokowske also spoke at the meeting. He said the Obama Administration is "steadfastly opposed" to drug legalization.
Here's the full program agenda with links to documents. Interesting factoid: The first legal instrument on drug control was signed 100 years ago in 1912 -- it was the International Opium Convention.
Here's the Director's 2012 State of the Drug War report. For the U.S. he writes:
The non-medical use of prescription drugs remains a major problem in the United States, where they are reported as the second most commonly used type of drug after cannabis. The estimated prevalence of current cannabis use among
persons age 12 or older in 2010 (6.9 per cent) is reported to be similar to the figure in 2009 (6.6 per cent) but higher than in 2008.
The estimates of current non-medical users of prescription drugs, including opioids and stimulants, as well as of users of methamphetamine and “ecstasy”, also remained stable in 2010. “Ecstasy” use in 2009 was reported to be increasing, however. While the estimated total number of cocaine users has remained stable since 2009, they decreased from 0.7 per cent of those age 12 or older in 2008 to 0.6 per cent in 2010.
In North America as a whole, the treatment demand for cannabis use, opioids and cocaine remains at levels comparable to previous years. High levels of drug related deaths were reported: 182.4 per million population for the United States, and
93.34 per million population for Canada. In the United States, prescription opioids are the main drug type reported in drug-related deaths.
182 out of 1 million people doesn't sound like a lot. Drug use/abuse is not among the 15 leading causes of death.
Illicit drug use is down in Mexico.
For Mexico, the use of cannabis, opioids, cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants is reported as declining, while stable trends have been reported for tranquillizers, hallucinogens and inhalants.
The conclusion section to the report says:
In recent years, there has not been a significant increase in the estimated number of illicit drug users in the world. There are stabilizing or decreasing trends in the use of traditional, or conventional, drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin, which are especially evident in North America and Europe.
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