The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the largest international drug policy decision making forum in the world. This year, at the 63rd session of the CND, our video advocacy team produced four short video reports to inform the public about some of the major developments.

1. Following Up the UN Common Position on Drugs

Last year we reported that 31 UN agencies adopted a common position on drug policy, including the unequivocal support for the decriminalisation of drug use. This historic document has received a warm welcome from civil society and some reform-oriented member states, but it received a cold reception from other, more repressive member states, such as Russia, China, and Iran. We interviewed some experts to find out more about the ongoing struggle over this document.

2. A UN-Approved Model of Decriminalisation: Norway

The Norwegian government organised a side event at the CND in which they presented their plans to decriminalise the personal use of illicit drugs. The reform is supported by several UN agencies. According to the new model that will be submitted to the parliament soon, drug use itself would remain a punishable offence but nobody would be punished simply for putting a substance into his or her own body. Offenders would be asked to attend a meeting with a committee which would assess their situation and inform them about the risks and how to reduce them. In case of problems, they would be offered free and voluntary treatment, with no legal consequences if they reject it. Watch our short video about the reform – and see a very rare moment when a politician acknowledges that he was wrong!

3. Cannabis rescheduling

The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the CND in 2018 to revise the scheduling of cannabis in the framework of the international drug control system. The changes are not easy to comprehend – but practically they would recognise the medical value of cannabis and cannabis-based products. Unfortunately, the vote on this recommendation was postponed in 2019 – and it was postponed again this March. The next deadline to vote is December 2020. We interviewed several professionals about the rescheduling of cannabis at the CND, among them Gilles Forté from the World Health Organisation.

4. Drug Propaganda Law: An Effort to Suppress Civil Society

One unintended consequence of the rapidly spreading drug policy reforms is the growing resistance coming from Russia and some Asian member states. These governments are frustrated by the changing global landscape and try to do everything in their power to prevent similar reforms happening in their own countries, even if they have to violate human rights, limit the freedom of expression and suppress civil society to do so. Russia, for example, amended its law on so called “drug propaganda” to ban any views in support of drug policy reform or harm reduction from reaching the public. Other countries in the region are planning similar amendments. From our video you can learn more about what activists think about this.