At the recent ICAAP meeting held in Bali in August, Mr Inang Winarso (a harm reduction expert from the Indonesian AIDS Commission) called for more leadership on a humane approach to drug policy.  Please see below excerps from his speech during ICAAP:

The cause of our failures are:

1. The Prohibitionist Policies of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Laws clearly demands the criminalization of drug users. Why is this law criminalizing drug users?  Because Indonesia has ratified the UN Convention on Drugs 1961. 1971. 1988.  As we know these conventions are ruling for the prohibition and the criminalization of drug use and the War on drugs.

a) The impact of these prohibitionist policies is: Local people have to end their traditions and habits of using these plants as they are outlawed by Schedule I , and they don’t know the real reason. A factual example of this: the coca leave and cannabis. This is stipulated in “Article 49, part 2F – the use of cannabis for other than the medical and scientific purpose must be discontinued as soon as possible”, in 25 years time.

b) Because in Indonesia, we have the best cannabis plants in the world, that is in Aceh, therefore let me tell you that since long ago (before year 1961) the cannabis plans in Aceh were used to get rid of plant pest and also a spice for cooking and coffee drinking. Then suddenly the cannabis plantation becomes outlawed. If we had consumed cannabis for a long time then by now, most of the People of Aceh would already be suffering with some health problems, and yet That has not Happened.

2. The second reason is the war on drugs. I am asking you, who is the winner of this war? Until today, there is no one nation in the world that has successfully won this War on Drugs. So, are we supposed to keep on fighting until our resources are all used up for this war on drugs? The answer of is NO!

And we know that both of these causes have brought us into war against our own children and we’re required to loose our cultural heritage without good reasons.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters from Asia-Pacific, let’s build a strong solidarity and initiate the correction of these errors and to think critically about the global policies that don’t considerate the Asian Pacific cultural values that are so noble and wise. And the courage to take upon these corrections is what we call Leadership -- Kepemimpinan!

Thank you.
Inang Winarso