Prague: President Orders Study On Decriminalizing 

  Prague: President Orders Study On Decriminalizing 

Posted by CN Staff on October 07, 2002 at 12:07:08 PT
By Zamira Eshanova 
Source: Radio Free Europe 

Prague, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has asked for a study on the effects of decriminalizing or even legalizing so-called soft drugs like hashish and cannabis.Kazakh Justice Minister Georgi Kim says the president has requested the country's Security Council to study two strategies for fighting drug addiction: imposing harsher punishments or easing restrictions.
Kazakhstan is the first of the former-Soviet Central Asian states to consider legalization as a way of combating the inflow of hard drugs, like heroin, from places such as Afghanistan. The thinking goes that if softer drugs are made more available, the allure of harder drugs will diminish.It's not clear when soft drugs might be legal to produce and use in Kazakhstan, but the move to study the issue has been hailed by regional experts. Mamasobir Burkhonov is the director of a methadone clinic in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, funded by the United Nations Development Program. He says decriminalization has worked and cites Holland as a success story:"In some countries, cannabis is sold and certain officially legalized dose of drugs are consumed. For example, in the Netherlands, drug-addiction has not been increasing due to legalization. In other words, the number of drug-addicts or the number of HIV-infected drug-users are not growing."In Holland, using and selling soft drugs has been tolerated since the 1970s. Harald Wychgel, a spokesman for the Holland-based Trimbos Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, an independent think tank, says the plan has succeeded in an important respect -- restricting the use of harder drugs."When you look at Netherlands and you look at countries surrounding us, you will find that in every country the use of drugs has increased. However, in Netherlands the use of harder drugs like heroin has been stable for years whereas it has been growing in other countries. What we wanted to achieve was to make sure that people were not very likely use harder drugs and we have been successful in this."The use of narcotics has a long history in Central Asia. For centuries, opium poppies were widely cultivated for use as a remedy against pain, colds, and pneumonia. Hashish was a leading recreational drug for the region's upper classes. Narcotics use was not traditionally regulated by the state but by social and religious custom. Drug abuse was relatively rare.This changed during the Soviet era when growing, possessing, and using drugs became a crime. The five former-Soviet states of Central Asia inherited this drug policy after independence in 1991, and thousands have been jailed in connection with drug crimes.The problem is expected to grow worse as more and more heroin transits the region from Afghanistan. The UN says opium-poppy production has increased greatly in Afghanistan since the collapse of the Taliban regime. Central Asia has become not only transit territory for trafficking Afghan heroin, but a big consumer market as well.Not everyone is convinced that legalization is the answer.Herbert Schaepe, the secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board, an independent organ for implementing UN drug conventions, says the Dutch government's relatively tolerant approach toward soft drugs is not in line with international conventions.He says the policy has created problems within the Netherlands, such as the rise of drug-linked crime.Schaepe tells RFE/RL that if Kazakhstan were going to follow the Dutch example, it would create even bigger problems for the region."According to international conventions the use, possession, trade, manufacture, and production of drugs for nonmedical purposes must be a punishable offense. In Kazakhstan, we have a fantastic potential of production of cannabis. Cannabis grows wild everywhere. Now if really it would mean that those who engaged in cultivation or in collection, harvesting of cannabis would not be punishable under future law, this would be the place for all traffickers of the world to go."Even Wychgel questions whether the Dutch model might be applicable to a country like Kazakhstan. "The key thing is, of course, that you have to look at why people use drugs. The situation here in Netherlands is not completely comparable with the situation in Kazakhstan, I think. When people use drugs for recreational reasons this kind of user is a different user from when somebody is using heroin. There are no people in Netherlands who use heroin for recreational reasons. Heroin is a drug you use because you want to forget things; you want to ease your pain, which can be physical, but also mental. So people using heroin do this for this reason. And perhaps they will not use other drugs like cannabis."Wychgel says simply reforming drug policy is not enough to tackle the drug-linked problems. He says that living and employment conditions must also improve.Burkhonov too says he is aware of the possible shortcomings of decriminalization, but he says the rapidly deteriorating situation in Central Asia convinces him this is the right step."In my opinion, if it is impossible to control and if it is already impossible to cope with it, the only way is to legalize drugs. Consumption of some drugs should be legal and thus controlled. In such condition, out of two evils you have to choose the less dangerous one."He says as many as 2 percent of the entire Kyrgyz population may already be addicted to heroin and the situation is other countries might be worse.Note: Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has commissioned a study on the experience of countries that have decriminalized "softer drugs" and the potential ramifications of legalizing substances such as marijuana. Kazakhstan is the first country in Central Asia to consider such a step as a way of combating the flood of harder drugs coming into the country from places like Afghanistan. RFE/RL correspondent Zamira Eshanova discusses the pros and cons of decriminalization with various regional and international experts. Complete Title: Kazakhstan: President Orders Study On Effects Of Decriminalizing 'Soft' DrugsSource: Radio Free EuropeAuthor: Zamira Eshanova Published: October 07, 2002 Copyright: 2002 RFE/RL Inc.Contact: goblep rferl.orgWebsite: Articles:Should Marijuana Possession Be Decriminalized? Report on Cannabis: Get Whole Story Amsterdam of the West - In These Times

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Comment #9 posted by malleus on October 08, 2002 at 11:28:12 PT
Kazakhstan is also where the Bushies want to get 
the oil from. Which is why we are bombing the bejeezus out of Afghanistan; to make way for the pipeline they want to send south from K-stan thru A-stan and P-stan to the ocean.This is a very important part of the world. And if they go decrim or legalize? What's Bush going to do about that? Pay off the local potenates? Then the others in surrounding countries will want their geld. And their already bad 'drug problem' will get considerably worse.
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Comment #8 posted by Nasarius on October 07, 2002 at 18:03:37 PT
Buzzword Fun!
>>Mark Souder(R-IN) was on the house of reps floor today reading a speech(i'm not sure he can speak without a script), about the need to continue funding the war on drugs --and not just the "dangerous drugs" like heroin and cocaine, but also the new "dangerous drugs",like "BC-BUD" and "club- drugs"Is "club drugs" really anything other than a euphemism for MDMA? There are perhaps a few like ketamine and GHB, but you never hear them mentioned. Methinks the politicians are just trying to make the "problem" sound worse than it actually is.
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on October 07, 2002 at 16:30:40 PT
Ethan, karkulus, observer
Remember the people in China that eat a cannabis related food, story that was out a month or so ago? They are reputed to living longer than other people because of it.Well in that region being spoken about, (Central Asia / Kazakhstan [Western Europe]) there was in the past, some stories about them living real long lives, partly because of yogurt, but I have suspected the long history of cannabis, being prevelent is relevent. The Caucasus Mountain Region. I have suspected the Armenians, made use of cannabis, were highly educated, less war minded...And karkulus = "Something ain't right here!"There is a dysfunctionalness, when people are caged for using a plant. And observer: Yes, in the past, We've seen that pattern. The country spouting, is looking for grants, hand outs, urine test kit dispenseries... and they can get a lot just by saying, -We are thinking about NOT caging men for using a plant.PROHIBITIONISTS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT CANNABIS.
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Comment #6 posted by observer on October 07, 2002 at 14:08:50 PT

Can't Help But Wonder...
I can't Help But Wonder if the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev is doing this simply as a bargining chip to extort more aid out of western nations. They must know what a hot-button issue this is for the US-fed UN and especially the self-righteous prohibitionist czars and mullahs which comprise the US imperial dictatorship. I hope I'm wrong and Nazarbaev is on the level.

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Comment #5 posted by p4me on October 07, 2002 at 14:08:27 PT

Eleonor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was an admirable person in her own right. She was in charged by the United Nations to develop the guidelines for the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" adopted in 1948.There are 30 points to this Declaration that can be read here: The Preamble is of note and here it is with the Declaration of Human Rights:PREAMBLEWhereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.------------------------------------------The 29th one may concern most of us here and it follows:(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.DAD-D,1,2

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Comment #4 posted by p4me on October 07, 2002 at 13:56:14 PT

Good grief and The Four Freedoms
Herbert Schaepe, the secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board, an independent organ for implementing UN drug conventions, says the Dutch government's relatively tolerant approach toward soft drugs is not in line with international conventions.My browser is Opera and it just crashed after typing a comment. I was just going to say that this is a prohibitionist parrot with a UN salary and he can only repeat the same old tired lines that the repetition of brainwashing requires. Richard Cowan did a little interview today on pot-tv about the UN conventions and said no big deal. Either MJ laws can be declared unconstitutional or a signatory can withdrawal with 6 months notice. Also they can just make it de-facto legal by just making it the lowest priority for enforcement as in the Dutch example.I wanted to raise the issue of the Four Freedom's that Franklin Roosevelt outlined in his famous "Four Freedoms Speech" on January 6, 1941 before Congress. These would be: 1)the Freedom of Speech and Expression, 2) the Freedom of Worship, 3) Freedom from Want, and, 4)Freedom from Fear. A copy of the full text of this famous speech can be read here: is an audio clip of less than two minutes that covers the Four Freedoms part that comes at the end of the speech here: This site also shows the illustrations that Norman Rockwell made for the Saturday Evening Post while America's leading illustrator. The titles read- Save Freedom Of Speech, Save Freedom Of Worship, fight for--Freedom From Want, and fight for--Freedom From Fear.The full speech may be here but it requires a proxy server and I have not set one up, but sometime when I get around to it in my old age I will let you know if nobody else does: It is in the historical documents section.It is a big deal. They built monuments to it in Indiana: and have a 11'x22'painting in Burbank dedicated to it: have an acclaimed park called Four Freedoms Park in Cape Coral, Florida: can buy a 36x12 poster of the Rockwell's famous paintings on the Four Freedoms for $8.99: is a website telling of the dedication by Bill Clinton of the 7.5 acre FDR Memorial with its 4 outside rooms that recognize both his four terms as President and the Famous Four Freedoms. You can see a panorama video as it circles the site here: would suggest this as an excellent article and the one that elaborates best on the Four Freedoms: city of Silverton, Oregon has murials reproducing Rockwells works: site- - includes the text of the speech along with these words of introduction from FDR:The Rights of All Men--EverywhereThe four freedoms of common humanity are as much elements of man's needs as air and sunlight, bread and salt. Deprive him of all these freedoms and he dies--deprive him of a part of them and a part of him withers. Give them to him in full and abundant measure and he will cross the threshold of a new age, the greatest age of man.These freedoms are the rights of men of every creed and every race, wherever they live. This is their heritage, long withheld. We of the United Nations have the power and the men and the will at last to assure man's heritage.The belief in the four freedoms of common humanity--the belief in man, created free, in the image of God--is the crucial difference between ourselves and the enemies we face today. In it lies the absolute unity of our alliance, opposed to the oneness of the evil we hate. Here is our strength, the source and promise of victory.FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELTThere is a Four Freedoms award from the organization that keeps FDR's memory alive and it is a big deal. A Google search will tell you more than I have. I did want to say that the Freedom of Fear that Roosevelt spoke of was not about a future Kevlar Army, but about reducing the stored armaments of war from any large concentration any where in the world. Now you may understand why we never hear of the Four Freedoms that Roosevelt was revered for in his day and shortly thereafter.But I want to recommend two articles. One would be this article titled, "The World's Greatest Lies
starting in Eden": the whole bit about this Four Freedoms thing has to do with the article written by a 91-year-old woman named Granny D. Haddock that walked across America to bring recognition to campaign finance reform in 1999-2000. She gave a speech in Maine marking the year anniversary of 9/11 and had her article published at hope these 2 paragraphs fit in the 4k allotment because they speak to what the US is doing to the world and why we may be hated: In a West Virginia college classroom last week, a friend of mine had something different to say."Look at it like this," he said to a classroom filled with honor students who couldn't imagine why America was under attack, except for reasons of religious extremism. "Imagine that West Virginia was a third world country," he said. "We have all this valuable coal, but there is one country, far away, that buys it all. They are the richest nation in the world, and they stay that way by getting our resources cheaply. They use their wealth to buy-off our government officials, and to kill or torture any worker here who tries to organize a union or clean up the government. How mad would we be toward that distant country, and just how innocent would we think its citizens are, who drive around in luxury cars and live in elegant homes and buy the best medicines for their children, and otherwise live a life in sparkling skyscrapers -- a life made affordable by the way they get resources from us? They admire their own democracy, turning a blind eye to what their government and their corporations do abroad."DAD-D,1,2
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Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo MD on October 07, 2002 at 12:38:26 PT:

Hey, K
Kazakhstan is big: the 9th largest country in the world, and 4 times the state of Texas: though there are only 15 million people there, a decision to allow cannabis commerce would give them a large voice on the world stage.
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Comment #2 posted by karkulus on October 07, 2002 at 12:29:49 PT

where do they get these guys?
and how can we get some? Mark Souder(R-IN) was on the house of reps floor today reading a speech(i'm not sure he can speak without a script), about the need to continue funding the war on drugs --and not just the "dangerous drugs" like heroin and cocaine, but also the new "dangerous drugs",like "BC-BUD" and "club-drugs".Boy,can he Blather!               How is it that some little country the size of New Jersey can get a better "pool" of politicians to draw from than the U.S. can ?? Something ain't right here!
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo MD on October 07, 2002 at 12:18:21 PT:

Cannabis and Central Asia
Cannabis originated in Central Asia (usually called nasha there), and its history as medicine there is longer than history.It is truly amazing that this "Third World" nation is considering this rational approach to dealing with a native wild plant, while the US and UN continue their hysterical propaganda and unsubstantiated doomsaying. The dominoes are truly threatening to fall. Certain people need to get out of the way, or they may be crushed by the force of events. 
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