Pubdate: Fri, 22 Apr 2016
Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press


UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Jamaica defended its decriminalization of 
possession of small amounts of marijuana. Iran said it seized 620 
tons of different types of drugs last year and is helping protect the 
world from "the evils of addiction." Cuba opposed the legalization of 
drugs or declaring them harmless.

The first U.N. General Assembly special session to address global 
drug policy in nearly 20 years heard major differences on the 
approach to drug use on its second day Wednesday.

On the liberalization side, Canada's Health Minister Jane Philpott 
announced that the government would introduce legislation to legalize 
marijuana next spring.

She said Canada would ensure that marijuana is kept out children's 
hands, and would address the devastating consequences of drugs and 
drug-related crimes.

Jamaica's Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith told delegates that 
the government amended the Dangerous Drugs Act last year to give 
tickets for possession of less than 2 ounces of cannabis instead of 
making it a felony offense, and to legalize the sacramental use of 
marijuana by Rastafarians.

It also established provisions for the medical, scientific and 
therapeutic uses of the plant, she said.

Smith said Jamaica is finalizing a five-year national drug plan 
including programs to reduce demand for drugs, provide for early 
intervention and treatment of drug users, and promote rehabilitation 
and social reintegration.

Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National 
Drug Control Policy, stressed that "law enforcement efforts should 
focus on criminal organizations - not on people with substance use 
disorders who need treatment and recovery support services."

He called for drug policies in every country to address the needs of 
underserved groups including women and children, indigenous people, 
prisoners, and lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people.

On the tough enforcement side, Indonesia's Ambassador Rachmat Budiman 
said "a zero-tolerance approach" is needed to suppress and eliminate 
the scourge of drugs.

He said drug trafficking rings are using new "psychoactive 
substances" and the Internet to penetrate all levels of society, 
including the young generation, and pose "a serious threat which 
requires extraordinary efforts."

Like Indonesia, Iran imposes the death penalty on drug traffickers.

Iran's Justice Minister Abdulreza Rahmani Fazli told the high-level 
meeting that the Islamic Republic has spent billions of dollars in 
its campaign against armed drug traffickers.

He said Iran is ready to host an international conference on 
countering drugs and drug-related crimes along the Balkan route, one 
of the two main heroin trafficking corridors linking opium-producing 
Afghanistan to the huge markets of Russia and Western Europe.

The route usually goes through Pakistan to Iran, Turkey, Greece and 
Bulgaria across southeastern Europe to the Western European market, 
and has an annual market value of some $28 billion, according to the 
U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime known as UNODC.

Fazli said the conference, in collaboration with the UNODC and 
countries on the route, would tackle ways to combat drug-related 
money laundering and detect drug trafficking ringleaders.

Cuba's Justice Minister Maria Esther Reus Gonzalez asked how the 
world couldn't be worried when the world drug problem has become 
"deeper and more intensified" with 246 million people using illicit 
drugs, according to UNODC.

"It will be really difficult to solve the problems of mass production 
of and trafficking in drugs from the South, if the majority demand 
from the North is not eliminated," Gonzalez warned.

Reus Gonzalez also warned that legalizing drugs won't solve the 
problem either and will only open "more dangerous gaps for the 
stability of our nations." She reiterated "Cuba's absolutely 
committed to achieving societies free of illicit drugs."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom