The international drug control regime is facing the most profound challenge of its existence. Member states have for some time been experimenting with new responses to the ‘world drug problem’; however, the advent of legally regulated cannabis markets has resulted in a ratcheting up of these challenges to expose the system to new levels of strain. With the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem fast approaching, how will the international community make use of the opportunity it provides for a free and open debate? This was the question hovering over the 58th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and its Special Segment on preparations for the UNGASS. 

The 58th CND and its UNGASS Special Segment took place between 9th and 17th March 2015. This report aims to provide an overview of what was discussed during the Special Segment on UNGASS preparations and the regular segment of the 58th session of the CND, including during the various side events and NGO dialogues. Going beyond a functional narrative account, it attempts to offer some analysis of prominent debates and discussions, as well as highlight emerging issues of concern and recurring themes.

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