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January 5, 2012
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Top International Drug Policy News for 2011

 
1. Mexican Drug Wars - "A strong civil society movement against the drug war and violence has emerged in Mexico and, sadly, the sorrow of Mexico is now Exhibit #1 for critics of drug prohibition around the world."

2. Afghanistan: Still the World's Top Drug Crop Producer - "A decade after the US invasion, Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer by far and possibly the world's largest cannabis producer. Given the crucial role these drug crops play in the Afghan economy, there is little reason to think anything is going to change anytime soon."

3. The Golden Triangle countries are producing more opium - "This year, production has accelerated. According to the UNODC's Southeast Asia Opium Survey 2011, opium production has been increasing since 2006, but jumped 16% this year."

4. Calls for Legalization Get Louder - "The biggest news in the international battle to end drug prohibition came at mid-year, when the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a star-studded panel of former presidents and prime ministers, public intellectuals, and business magnates, called the global war on drugs "a failure" and urged governments worldwide to should shift from repressive, law-enforcement centered policies to new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a means of reducing harm to individuals and society, in a report that drew press attention from around the world."

5. Reforms Are Taking Place in Europe  - It's hard to pick just one example here. Following Portugal's lead, proposals for law reform regarding drug policy were put forward in Scotland, England, Greece, Poland, Netherlands and Italy.

6. Medical Marijuana is Gaining Acceptance - There are three examples here, in Israel, Czech Republic and New Zealand where small reforms are taking place.

7. Iran's Drug War Executions Cause Amnesty International to Condemn them - "Iran may be the most egregious offender when it comes to killing drug offenders, but it is by no means the only one. Other countries that not only have the death penalty for drug offenses but actually apply it include China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Human rights activists argue that the death penalty for drug offenses violates the UN Charter. For information on ongoing efforts to curtail the use of the death penalty for drug offenses, visit the International Harm Reduction Association's Death Penalty Project."

8. Netherlands Plans to Ban Foreigners From Cannabis Cafes Starting in 2013 - "The number of coffee shops operating in the country has dropped by about half from its peak, with local governments putting the squeeze on them via measures such as distance restrictions (must be so far from a school, etc.). Now, the national government will be limiting their client base to 2,000 card carrying Dutch nationals each."

9. Insite /North America's Only Supervised Injection Site, Allowed to Stay Open -  "If the Harper government has been defeated in its effort to kill supervised injection sites, it is moving forward with plans to pass an omnibus crime bill that includes mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, including growing as few as six pot plants. With an absolute majority in a parliamentary system, there seems to be no way to block the bill's passage, which will mean a real step backward for our northern neighbor as it emulates some of our worst penal practices."

10. Bolivia Resigns from the Global Coca Ban - "At the end of June, the Bolivian government of former coca-grower union leader Evo Morales announced it was resigning from the UN 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs because that treaty bans the cultivation of coca. The resignation is effective January 1. The move came after a failed effort last year by Bolivia to amend the treaty to allow for coca cultivation, a traditional activity in the Andes, where the plant has been used as a mild stimulant and hunger suppresser for millennia."

Read full article.

 
Read a summary of the top international news headlines.
 
Stopthedrugwar.org recapped the top news about international drug policy from the last 12 months, and we've quoted their article.
 

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January 3, 2012
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Happy New Year!

 
We had great year of Raw Opium: Pain, Pleasure, Profits screenings in 2011 and we couldn't have done it without you. We screened the film at Transform Drug Policy Foundation's Drug Policy for the 21st Century event in Glasgow, at the Reform Conference in Los Angeles, at American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in Washington, with Open Cinema and AIDS Vancouver Island in Victoria, with World Affairs Council Dallas/Fort Worth, with Hello Cool World and DOXA Film Festival in Vancouver, with Cinema Politica in Victoria, and independently in Toronto and Ottawa.

If you were at any of our screenings, we'd love to hear from you now. You can simply fill out our questionnaire online and tell us what you thought: http://kensingtontv.com/rawopium/screens/your-feedback/

Coming up in 2012, we have confirmed screenings in Toronto and Peterborough and more screenings are in the works in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC. If you work with a drug policy reform organization in any of these cities, please be in contact with us and we'll keep you informed about our screenings and see how you can be involved to help us promote them.

Remember you can watch Raw Opium at home in HD and SD, from our store, here.
We're looking forward to more fantastic screenings in 2012!

 
We had great year of Raw Opium: Pain, Pleasure, Profits screenings in 2011 and we couldn't have done it without you. We screened the film at Transform Drug Policy Foundation's Drug Policy for the 21st Century event in Glasgow, at the Reform Conference in Los Angeles, at American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in Washington, with Open Cinema and AIDS Vancouver Island in Victoria, with World Affairs Council Dallas/Fort Worth, with Hello Cool World and DOXA Film Festival in Vancouver, with Cinema Politica in Victoria, and independently in Toronto and Ottawa.

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November 24, 2011
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Glasgow Screening Will be Hosted by Transform Drug Policy Foundation

 

On December 8th, Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland will host "Drug Policy for the 21st Century," a half-day event in Glasgow, which includes the UK Premiere of Raw Opium and a public presentation of the Global Commission on Drug Policy's recommendations. There will also be an audience debate with panelists including Jolene Crawford, the founder of Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland; David Graham Scott, filmmaker and public speaker on addictions; David Liddell, the Director of the Scottish Drugs Forum; and Mike McCarron, the host from Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland who has three decades of experience working on criminal justice, health and social issues.

In conversation with Mike McCarron by phone from Glasgow, he told us that they're expecting a diverse audience at the event.  In addition to the general audience made up of documentary film fans and drug policy debaters, members of the harm reduction community are also expected. Their discussion will make links between Raw Opium and the Global Commission's recommendations and they may discuss documentary film as a tool for social change, especially in the context of drug policy reform work.

To find out more about the event, visit Transform Drug Policy Foundation's blog, or view the detailed event invitation here.

 

 

On December 8th, Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland will host "Drug Policy for the 21st Century," a half-day event in Glasgow, which includes the UK Premiere of Raw Opium and a public presentation of the Global Commission on Drug Policy's recommendations. There will also be an audience debate with panelists including Jolene Crawford, the founder of Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland; David Graham Scott, filmmaker and public speaker on addictions; David Liddell, the Director of the Scottish Drugs Forum; and Mike McCarron, the host from Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland who has three decades of experience working on criminal justice, health and social issues.

Read more.

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November 23, 2011
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TVO's Doc Studio Captures Our Panel Discussion on Video

 
In November 2010 we held a preview screening of Raw Opium and a panel discussion in Toronto for stakeholders from the academic, public health and harm reduction communities to get feedback from them as we completed the film.

The panel featured historian and writer Peter Dale Scott and policy expert and lawyer Eugene Oscapella (both featured in Raw Opium), director Peter Findlay, Executive Producer / Co-Writer Robert Lang, and Hello Cool World's Katherine Dodds.

TVO's Doc Studio produced this video in which you can hear the experts' and audience's impressions after the screening.

 
In November 2010 we held a preview screening of Raw Opium and a panel discussion in Toronto for stakeholders from the academic, public health and harm reduction communities to get feedback from them as we completed the film.

The panel featured historian and writer Peter Dale Scott and policy expert and lawyer Eugene Oscapella (both featured in Raw Opium), director Peter Findlay, Executive Producer / Co-Writer Robert Lang, and Hello Cool World's Katherine Dodds.

TVO's Doc Studio produced this video in which you can hear the experts' and audience's impressions after the screening.

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November 22, 2011
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Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform

 
A group of 60 of the world's most recognized names in politics, the arts and business, including Noam Chomsky, Sting, Yoko Ono and Jimmy Carter have signed a public letter addressed to the members of the British Parliament requesting support for the exploration of new drug policies based on scientific evidence that will minimize the harms associated with the production, demand and use of drugs.

Other signatories include several former Presidents from Colombia, Brazil, Switzerland and Poland, as well as Film Director, Bernardo Bertolucci and Entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson.

The letter emphasizes "Improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time."

The letter was published by The Guardian UK and articles about the initiative have been written in the TelegraphDaily Mail, and in Polish newspapers.

The letter with a full list of signatories can be found on the Beckley Foundation's newly launched website for the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform - here.

 

 

 
A group of 60 of the world's most recognized names in politics, the arts and business, including Noam Chomsky, Sting, Yoko Ono and Jimmy Carter have signed a public letter addressed to the members of the British Parliament requesting support for the exploration of new drug policies based on scientific evidence that will minimize the harms associated with the production, demand and use of drugs.

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November 15, 2011
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Essay on the history of opium

 
Our Associate Producer Scott Calbeck wrote this short essay, Opium: A brief history.

Click on the image to download the PDF:

Excerpt from the introduction:

For over five thousand years, people have recognized the medicinal value of the poppy. It is just a flower, but the opium it produces is the source of the most potent pain relievers known to man. Every day doctors prescribe the morphine and codeine that derive from opium. However, morphine is also used to produce heroin. Opium is both a “gift of the gods” and a scourge of modern society.

 
Our Associate Producer Scott Calbeck wrote this short essay, Opium: A brief history.

Click on the image to download the PDF:

Excerpt from the introduction:

For over five thousand years, people have recognized the medicinal value of the poppy. It is just a flower, but the opium it produces is the source of the most potent pain relievers known to man. Every day doctors prescribe the morphine and codeine that derive from opium. However, morphine is also used to produce heroin. Opium is both a “gift of the gods” and a scourge of modern society.

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Insite's Story: Vancouver

August 19, 2011

Romesh's Story: India

August 18, 2011
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