The third the World Federation Against Drugs was held in May 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden, a country which has become the symbolic home of those 'restrictive' drug policies the Forum celebrates. An IDPC representative joined the curious mix of people who gravitated to the event: a sprinkling of those making a career out of fortifying the drug prohibition industry; a selection of familiar drug war zealots; and some individuals, probably very well-intentioned, there to support treatment and prevention.

The prevailing mood was one of bewilderment, anger and resentment, summed up by Victor Ivanov as he railed against the 'locomotive of the global drug legalisation movement’ whose objective is to 'legalise transnational organised crime' (sic). Russia’s treatment system is notoriously harsh and patently ineffective, but Ivanov was, philosophically speaking, on home territory here, and nobody was going to interfere, even in the name of basic conceptual coherence. The attendees were characterised by a kind of bunker mentality, being quite convinced that they face a shadowy network of well-armed billionaires determined to distort the evidence and lead the public pied-piper style into a maelstrom of addiction and misery.

Nonetheless, the organisation’s own attitude toward evidence is ambivalent at best. ‘Drug policies are too important to be left to drug experts,’ opined WFAD president Sven Olov Carlsson, who also announced that the Russian representation was ‘especially welcome’.

Maria Larsson, Sweden’s Minister of Health, rose to confirm that every time she goes to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, she encounters ‘a co-ordinated campaign to liberalise drug laws’. The bloated coffers and highly organised cadres of a ruthless and conspiratorial opposition was a theme repeatedly invoked throughout the event. Robert Dupont, a former Whitehouse drug tsar, then attempted to underpin the proceedings with a platform of pseudo-science, describing drug addiction as a ‘chemical slavery’ grounded in the hijacking of the ‘mammalian brain’ (this part of the brain, he expounded helpfully, ‘is not the human brain’). Dupont crowned his intervention by proudly characterising the assembled crusaders as ‘modern Vikings’. There was a press conference given by representatives of the US, UK, Russia, Italy and Sweden, at which the press was prohibited from asking questions. The tone of the proceedings was eccentric, and at times frankly bizarre. It was deeply disturbing to witness Gus Jaspert, the Home Office representative, aligning the UK with this movement.

Four overall themes emerged as the weapons with which the WFAD plans to counter the machinations of George Soros and his fellow super villains.

  1. Use the language of human rights, which has up to now been commandeered by the harm reduction lobby.
  2. Talk to the public about children, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  3. Addiction is a 'chemical slavery'.
  4. The opposition is rich.

There was no new research, no examples, other than the Swedish, in which repressive prohibition has succeeded; the sole argument made was that 'drug legalisation' would make things even worse. The IDPC representative left with the impression that these people were obsessed with harm reductionists and legalisers, whom they believe are actively seeking to increase drug use. It was difficult to credit, listening in to the discussions of this angry and confused subculture, that almost all the world's governments agree with them.

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