a folded newspaper
APR – JUL 2019

As part of the Cannabis Innovate initiative, late April saw Martin, Dave and others associated with the project attend a workshop hosted by GDPO-Swansea University partner the Institute Scientifique, Université Mohammed-V de Rabat, Morocco. Back in Swansea in May, Dave lectured on ‘Drug Wars: From Reagan to Trump’ on PCS colleague Dr Luca Trenta’s module, Shadow Wars: US Presidents and Covert Action from the Cold War to Obama.  As part of his work on the GDPO’s metrics project and as a member of a UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights delegation later that month he was also in Vienna to attend a UNODC hosted meeting on the ongoing review of the Annual Report Questionnaire; a UN tool designed to collect drug related data from member states.  In June Martin was an invited panel speaker (‘The Politics of Spliffs and Butts’), at The Economist Cannabis Summit in Toronto and, on a closely related theme, Axel, Branwen and WOLA’s John Walsh visited the Caribbean. This was part of the GDPO’s ‘Cultivating Change: UN Treaties, Cannabis Regulation and Options for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean’ project. Supported by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund, the aim of the scoping trip was to develop closer ties with the GDPO’s new partner, the University of the West Indies, Mona, discuss future collaboration and learn more about the situation in the country following the decriminalisation of cannabis and amidst rapidly changing policy and market landscapes. The team met with UWI staff from the Department of Government, including Vicki Hanson, to whom we are grateful for her work in organising the itinerary, government officials and visited the Alternative Development programme in Accompong. They also spent some time talking to cannabis growers in Westmorland discussing the impact of the Cannabis Licensing Authority regulations on the farming community and their efforts to transition to licit medical markets. Meanwhile, Dave attended The Stockholm Criminology Symposium. Speaking on the history of criminalisation within the international drug control system, he was privileged to be part of a panel marking the award of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology to Madam Ruth Dreifuss, Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, former President of Switzerland and GDPO patron. The same month also saw Khalid lecture on the international drug control regime at the Geneva Summer School course, ‘Drugs, Health and Human Rights’ run by the Global Health Institute at the University of Geneva.

 Dave in Stockholm

Dave in Stockholm with Madam Ruth Dreifuss and Pavel Bem

Team in Jamaica

The GDPO team in Jamaica with Vicki Hansen

In terms of publications and media engagement, Khalid had a particularly busy quarter. In addition to OP-Eds in Al HuffPost Maghreb (North Africa), Cannabis, banlieues et stigmatisation en France, and Le Monde (France), La politique publique sur la consommation de stupéfiants devrait être évaluée de manière indépendante, he was also quoted among other places in Le Monde Afrique (francophone Africa), La légalisation du cannabis, une opportunité pour l’Afrique. His peer reviewed publications appeared in The Lancet, ‘The international drug control system: the need for guiding principles for public health’ (with Kronig-Romero N, Goulão J, Stoltenberg C, Kazatchkine M, Clark H) and the Brown Journal of World Affairs, ‘Towards the End of the Global War on Drugs’. In-house, and following on from the CND, April saw the publication of Axel’s of ‘What have the Russians done for us in the international drug policy field? A timely reminder to take back control’ on the GDPO blog.

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JAN – APR 2019

Early in February Khalid was busy attending a number of conferences and meetings, including Cannabis Europa in Paris and the 4th Brandenburg Forum on Drugs and Development Policies, in Liebenberg (Germany), as well as lecturing on the international drug control regime to a group of students from the state universities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow visiting Geneva as part of the programme of the Alexander Griboyedov Foundation. The beginning of the month also saw  the first formal event organised by Cannabis Innovate, a new initiative built on a partnership between GDPO and Equinox International, with some activities undertaken in collaboration with the Transnational Institute.  The Chatham House Rule workshop, ‘Fair Trade Options for the Cannabis Market’, was held in London 4-5th February and brought together about 25 academics and practitioners from the fields of international drug policy, fair trade and agrarian justice, and included colleagues from the Caribbean.  From the equally tropical Swansea, the very successful and productive event was attended by Dave, Branwen Lloyd, our recently appointed project coordinator, and Martin Jelsma, GDPO Senior Research Associate and Director of the TNI Drugs and Democracy Programme.   Later in the month, the focus of GDPO activity shifted to another important core project, Crypto Drug Markets. As part of the Department of Political and Cultural Studies seminar series, Martin Horton-Eddison presented ideas from his current research, ‘Regime Theory, Crypto-Drug Markets, & the ‘Post-State Concept: A Theoretical Discussion.’


Poster for Regime Theory, Crypto-Drug Markets, & the ‘Post-State Concept: A Theoretical Discussion

As is normally the case, activities in March were dominated by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the UN in Vienna, and this year, its High Level Ministerial Segment.  The GDPO was active on several fronts.  Along with the governments of Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, the International Drug Policy Consortium and  the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, it co-organised a side-event on metrics: ‘Aligning Data Collection and the UNGASS Implementation and the Sustainable Development Goals: Recommendations  for a Review of the Annual Report Questionnaire. Featuring speakers from the Governments of Switzerland, Canada and Mexico as well as the EMCDDA and IDPC, the well-attended event raised important and timely issues regarding the ARQ review process.  As part of the Cannabis Innovate initiative, GDPO was also involved with a side-event organised by TNI and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  Including presentations  from representatives from CARICOM and the government of Jamaica, the event saw Dave launch a new Cannabis Innovate Policy Report, Fair(er) Trade Options for the Cannabis Marketauthored by Martin Jelsma, Sylvia Kay (TNI Agrarian and Environmental Justice project) and Dave.  Meanwhile, Axel presented some of his own current research, ‘Tramadol: drug problem or medicrime’, at a side event titled ‘Researching Drugs and Development Policies: Understanding the Development Implications if Illicit Economies’ organised by the Government of Germany, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage.


The panellists at the CARICOM Marijuana Commission and fair-trade options for the cannabis market side event.

The quarter was relatively busy in terms of publications, including newspaper OP-Eds of which Khalid authored three: Le Temps (Switzerland): Pour en finir avec la guerre contre les drogues,  L’Economiste (Morocco): Cannabis: Le commerce international s’organise… sauf au Maroc Der Standard (Austria): Zukunft internationaler Drogenpolitik: Koordination oder Irrelevanz?

Martin continued his association with Jane’s Intelligence Review, with his February article Response to Fentanyl Crisis Reflects Evolutions in Dark Web Policing (paywall) which highlighted an evolving law enforcment approach that increasingly prioritises intelligence-gathering and market management strategies.

Within the academic realm, Axel published, with Ernst Yorke, Folaju O. Oyebola and Samuel Anaja Otene, ‘Tramadol: a valuable treatment for pain in Ghana and Nigeria’, in  Current Medical Research and Opinion and as sole author ‘Drug Problem or Medicrime? Distribution and Use of Falsified Tramadol Medication in Egypt and West Africa’ in the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development.  The latter being the first edition of an excellent new open access journal from the LSE and guested edited by the GDPO’s Julia Buxton. In addition to the Fair(er) Trade Options for the Cannabis Market Policy Report mentioned above, the Observatory was also involved in the publication of a timely policy brief with WOLA and TNI, The WHO’s First-Ever Critical Review of Cannabis, as well as  - with IDPC, SSRC, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation and the International Peace Institute - the submission of a written contribution to the 50th session of the UN Statistical Commission.

The WHO’s First-Ever Critical Review of Cannabis

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OCT 2018 – JAN 2019

As part of an OSF Global Drug Policy Program funded research project that is examining the gendered impacts of drug policy enforcement, Julia organised a workshop in Accra, Ghana in October that brought together 15 experts from East and West Africa including from the prison service (Kenya), drug policy reform NGOs (Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia), harm reduction organisations (Senegal and Kenya), drug user organisations (Tanzania), and sex workers unions and support organisations (Nigeria, Ghana). The workshop addressed the impacts of punitive enforcement policies on women and girls both directly as drug users and indirectly as partners of drug users. Ahead of the Ghana trip, Julia also delivered sessions on gendered enforcement impacts to colleagues from the region attending the University of Hong Kong’s Human Rights and Drug Policy in East and Southeast Asia workshop. As in Ghana, issues around social and cultural stigma of female drug users were addressed, and the importance of gender-sensitive drug policy research and reform emphasised.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, October saw Martin work with Michala Kowalski, Monica Barratt, and Adam R Winstock to produce the dark net section of Global Drug Survey 2019Are You Privacy Minded.  More details on this can be found here.   This was part of a productive month for Martin with him also giving a presentation  - as a Civil Society Task Force on Drugs selected speaker  - at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs Fourth Intersessional meeting on research into the impact of recent law enforcement operations against crypto drug markets (CDMs) and seeing publication of his contributions on CDMs within the IDPCs’ landmark civil society report Taking Stock: A Decade of Drug Policy

Martin presenting at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna, October 2018.

With work on the GDPO’s Africa project progressing in what might be described as a slow and steady fashion, as part of an international initiative organised by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Advocacy Program, the Observatory was one of a range of organisations to submit a formal letter in October to the 41st Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.  In it, as with the submissions of other organisations, the GDPO noted with concern yet another critical review of tramadol, a widely used analgesic for the relief of moderate to severe pain in countries where other opioid analgesics are largely unavailable.

During a hectic trip to Australia, Khalid took part (with Sir Richard Branson) in the launch of The Fair Treatment Campaign in Sydney and gave a presentation on the International Drug Control System to the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, as part of the Canberra Drug Policy Series.

Slightly nearer to home, in November Dave and Martin Jelsma spent time in Rabat, Morocco, working with the GDPO’s new partners at the Institut Scientifique of the University of Mohammad V on the development of a number of exciting projects with Dave’s time in the country also including research in the Rif for the forthcoming second edition of The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition.

In Budapest Julia convened an executive short course delivered to 23 participants from 18 different countries, with the teaching team including Ian Hamilton (University of York), Fiona Macaulay (University of Bradford), Corina Giacomello (University of Oaxaca) and Giavana Margo (Central European University). The interactive sessions covered the historical foundations of current drug policy and, drawing on the outcomes of the earlier workshop in Ghana introduced the concepts of “gender” and “feminism” in addition to the ways in which these relate to drug policy. The violences faced by women and girls in the drug trade were also discussed as well as tools and processes for mainstreaming gender within drug policy.  In Swansea, November also saw Martin guest-lecture on the topic of CDMs for Rick Lines’ undergraduate and MA’s modules on drugs and crime.  Towards the end of term in December, Dave also ventured across campus to give a lecture on ‘the War on Drugs’ to Rick’s excellent MA class.  At the University of Geneva’s Global Studies Institute, Khalid gave a presentation titled ‘Quel avenir pour les politiques internationales de contrôle des drogues?’ as part of ‘Les Midis de la Recherche’ Series

Dave with Rick’s MA class in December 2018.

Over the course of the Quarter GDPO was involved in a good number of publications, in terms of both Observatory outputs and team authored publications elsewhere. As part of the ongoing work with CEU’s School of Public Policy, October saw the publication of two Situation Analyses: Faryal Sajjad’s, Pakistan’s HIV Epidemic and the Need for Prison-Based Harm Reduction Programmes, and Nicholas Sertich’s, Villainous, Alien, Killable: Narrative and Regulatory Norms Surrounding Drug Users in Video Games.  The same month Khalid’s co-authored chapter, ‘Drug Policy in the Russian Federation: Do Control Policies Produce More Harm than Drugs?’ was published in Axel’s co-edited collection Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019, as was Dave’s co-authored chapter, ‘Measuring the “World Drug Problem”: 2019 and Beyond’. Axel also published ‘Poly and Tricky Dick: The drug war origins of the term “polydrug use”’ in Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.   In December Martin published the first of a series of pieces for Jane’s Intelligence Review’s new section OSINT Snapshots, ‘US STOP law aims to tackle postal deliveries from dark web drug sales’, while Ross’s Opinion Piece, ‘How revolutionary-minded is Mexico’s new president really?’ was published online by Al Jazeera.  Khalid was also busy writing pieces for or being interviewed by news outlets.  Activity included ‘Africa’s Time To Shape International Drug Policy’ (OP-ED), Modern Ghana (Ghana), 'Drug policies should be first of all concerned with preserving public health' (interview, Daily Star (Bangladesh) and  ‘Légalisation du cannabis au Luxembourg : quelles conséquences pour la France?’ (OP-ED), Les Echos (France).

Martin’s piece for JIR, December 2018

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JUL 2018 – OCT 2018

While keeping busy with a range of ‘low noise’ impact related activities, the Quarter was relatively quiet in terms of public facing work.  That said, September saw the results of a long-planned research expedition to India by Dave and TNI’s Tom Blickman come to fruition.  There they liaised closely with GDPO Technical Advisor Romesh Bhattacharji on a range of activities relating to the cannabis policy reform project, and specifically ongoing work  on the updated version of the 2014 TNI-GDPO publication, rise and decline of cannabis prohibition pdf. In addition to meetings and interviews with parliamentarians in New Delhi, fieldwork included a return trip to the Himachal Pradesh to examine changes within the cannabis market since a first visit in 2014 (See QN below) and an excursion into the largely unstudied cannabis producing regions of Uttarakhand. Relating some initial impressions from this fieldwork to broader policy discussions, Tom was interviewed by the Delhi Post which subsequently published a story titled Seek drug reform within international law.

Cannabis in Uttarakhand

The Quarter proved to be productive regarding GDPO and GDPO related publications.  July saw the publication of a Situation Analysis by Jasmin Gamez (MA student at Central European University,  2017-18), Environmental Impacts of the Legalization of Cannabis in California.  Another product of the Observatory’s collaboration with the School of Public Policy at CEU, in August GDPO published a timely Working Paper by Shaun Shelly and Simon Howell (University of Pretoria and Research Director, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum respectively)  titled South Africa’s National Drug Master Plan Influenced & Ignored  The following month, after over a year’s research and drafting, we were pleased to publish a Working Paper by young scholar and former University of Bradford  Rotary Peace Fellow, Kari Williams: Crime, Drugs, and Power in Honduras  Also in September Khalid published an article in Les Echos.fr, ‘Vers une coalition mondiale de commerce du cannabis?’ while the GDPO’s submission on drug policy metrics to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was reference its significant report countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights  September also saw the release of the Spanish edition of the GDPO, TNI, WOLA joint publication on Inter Se treaty modification El equilibrio entre la estabilidad y el cambio La modificación inter se de los.  Towards  the end of the month, Axel’s co-edited collection, Collapse of the Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019was published by Emerald while Christopher’s first monograph, based on his excellent PhD dissertation, White Drug Cultures and Regulation in London, 1916-1960 was published by Palgrave.

Book Covers: White Drug Cultures and Regulation in London & Collapse of the Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs 

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Quarterly News Archive

GDPO Quarterly News: April 2018 – July 2018

April saw Dave visit Vienna and present at the first ever International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Civil Society Hearing, an event organised by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs.  Wearing his Transnational Institute Associate Fellow’s hat and as one of ten selected NGO representatives, he presented on Balancing Treaty Stability and Change: Inter se modification and the UN drug control conventions.  

Dave was also briefly in London to meet with Jasmin Gamez, Mai Hla Aye and Anna Dzunic from Central European University’s School of Public Policy Applied Policy Programme.  The meeting was a final discussion of commissioned publications and videos from the GDPO-APP joint project, some of which are listed below.  April also saw Martin Horton-Eddison present his research on the Dark Net via video link to the 3rd Semana Psicoactiva in Bogota, Colombia.

giving a lecture

In May, the GDPO was delighted to welcome to Swansea Alex Stevens, Professor in Criminal Justice in the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and Observatory Technical Advisor.  Alex not only spoke to MA students on the Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS) Public Policy Module but also gave an excellent presentation on ‘Being Human and the “Moral Sidestep”: Explaining government inaction on drug related deaths in the UK’ at a GDPO organised seminar. We hope Alex will be able to get across to Swansea again next year.

In June we were thrilled to welcome as a Swansea University colleague Dr Rick Lines.  While a GDPO Senior Research Associate for some time, Rick was appointed as Associate Professor within Swansea’s Hillary Clinton School of Law.  We look forward to developing various exciting projects when Rick is based in Swansea from September.  Coincidently, in June both Rick and Dave were invited participants at an OHCHR expert consultation meeting in Geneva.  This focused on the Implementation of Joint Commitments of UNGASS 2016 in addressing and countering the World Drug Problem about human rights.   Back in Swansea, June also saw Martin Horton-Eddison give a presentation on Participant Observation at a PGR Methods Workshop.  Here he spoke about his experiences at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March.       

The quarter was relatively busy in terms of publications.  These included  - as part of the Africa project  - Cannabis and the Drug Law in Tunisia A Reform Rooted in Social Justice Claims(GDPO Situation Analysis) by Khalid and Ghana Strives for a More Humane Drug Policy (GDPO Situation Analysis) by Maria-Goretti Ane.  Contributing to ongoing work on crypto-drug markets, Alois Afilipoaie  and Patrick Shortis authored another Situation Analysis, Crypto Market Enforcemnet New Strategy and Tactics while Mai Hla Aye wrote on Gender and Drugs in Myanmar(GDPO Situation Analysis).  The result of many months hard work by GDPO research associate Constanza Sanchez and Michael Collins (Drug Policy Alliance), GDPO was pleased to publish in June a Policy Brief Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission Spain’s Sub-national Approach to Drug It is the expectation that a Spanish language version will be available later in the year.  A result of the GDPO-APP project, we were also pleased to post a number of videosexamining various aspects of drug policy: Niamh Eastwood (Release), ‘A Quite Revolution: Drug Decriminalization Across the Globe’; Marie Nougier (IDPC), ‘Measuring the “World the “World Drug Problem”: ARQ Revision, beyond traditional indicators’; Julia Buxton (CEU & GDPO), ‘Dealing with Synthetics: Time to reframe the narrative’.  Finally Dave published a short piece in Addiction‘Canada, Cannabis Legalization and Uncertainty around the United Nations Drug Control Conventions.’

GDPO Quarterly News: January 2018 – April 2018

The new year started on a happy note with the graduation to Doctor of Philosophy in Politics of GDPO PhD student Joe Dixon.  We look forward to the publication of Joe’s research on ‘Afghanistan’s Wicked problems: COIN & CN in Afghanistan 2002-11’.

Continuing with the doctoral theme, January also saw Dave serve as a member of a PhD external examinations committee at the University of Kent.  The thesis, ‘Regulating Cannabis Market: The Construction of an Innovative Drug Policy in Uruguay’ by Clara Musto, was submitted to the University of Kent and the University of Utrecht in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy after following the Erasmus Mundus Doctoral Programme in Cultural and Global Criminology. The second part of the examination process is due to take place later in the year in Utrecht. We wish Clara all the best for that viva and in her post-doctoral career. Still on the issue of cannabis, but from a slightly different perspective, Axel presented a paper on medical cannabis cultivation in the UK at the Northern Irish Medical Cannabis Summit.  The following month Dave was in New York at the International Peace Institute (IPI) for a panel presentation around the launch of a new report Aligning Agendas - the drive for policy coherence. Published by IPI, the report was the result of over a year’s work by the Institute convened International Expert Group on Drug Policy Metrics of which he is a member.  February also saw Khalid participate in several events, including the 3rd Brandenburg Forum on drug and development policies, Lubennau, and the Santa Marta Dialogue on the present and future of global drug policies, Santa Marta.

In March the GDPO was once again busy in Vienna at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  Among other things, this involved co-sponsorship of a side-event on drug policy metrics and the European launch of Aligning Agendas as well as an event titled ‘Regulating Cannabis in Accord with International Law’.  Co-sponsored by GDPO, the Transnational Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America, this marked the launch of a major new publication, Modernization of Treaty Regimesa Report coming out of the TNI-GDPO-WOLA Expert Seminar in Amsterdam in October 2017.   Moderated by John Walsh (WOLA), the well-attended session involved a panel comprising Dave, Martin Jelsma, Annette Henry (Cannabis Licencing Authority, Jamaica) and Allyn Taylor (University of Washington School of Law). Prof. Taylor’s remarks can be found here.

In addition to Balancing Treaty Stability and Change the quarter saw several other GDPO related publications.  These included Dave Bewley-Taylor & Marie Nougier Measuring the ‘world drug problem’ ARQ Revision (GDPO Working Paper) Dave Bewley-Taylor and Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Modernization of Treaty Regimes(GDPO Working Paper)andDave Bewley-Taylor, Tom Blickman, Martin Jelsma and John Walsh, ‘Canada’s Next Steps on Cannabis and the UN Drug Treaties’, in iPolitics. Khalid also published a Commentary in the Journal of the International Aids Society‘HIV and AIDS among adolescents who use drugs’  with Axel co-authoring with Gary Potter, ‘The three betrayals of the medical cannabis growing activist’ in the International Journal of Drug Policy. In terms of newspapers, Khalid had an article, ‘Cannabis : importer le modèle californien dans nos quartiers,’ published in Les Echos