Canada Violates International Drug Treaty

Canada Violates International Drug Treaty
Posted by FoM on February 22, 2000 at 22:10:27 PT
Says UN Agency
Source: Canoe 
A United Nations drug control agency says Canada is violating the 1971 convention on mind-altering substances. Canada makes no effort to monitor the sale of prescription drugs like barbiturates and amphetamines, making it easy for them to be diverted to the black market, the International Narcotics Control Board says. 
"We have been very disappointed that the people responsible for these issues in the government are not paying sufficient attention to it," says Herbert Schaepe, secretary of the INCB. "We have not been able to solve this through the usual silent diplomacy," adds Schaepe. "So, therefore, the INCB has no other remedy but to call the attention of the public to it." The INCB is part of the United Nations International Drug Control Program in Vienna. It has just issued its annual report which assesses the drug control situation worldwide. Since 1987, when Canada agreed to the convention, the INCB has been trying to get Ottawa to implement its control provisions. "And after 13 years," says Schaepe, "we now have to report to the international community that Canada is the only developed country with serious deficiencies when it comes to the implementation of that treaty. "Canada is a loophole in the international drug control system." And this, he contends "could adversely affect efforts to control quite a number of substances." The 1971 convention obliges all governments to introduce certain control measures such as licensing of companies, import-export authorizations, prescription requirements and inspection requirements. Psychotropic drugs such as benzodiazepines, familiarly known as "bennies," phenobarbital, various barbiturates, amphetamines and anorectics or "slimming pills" can be obtained legally by prescription. They are often overprescribed and can be dangerous when used to excess, the report says, adding that the large demand for many of these mind-altering drugs has led to a flourishing illicit trade. Schaepe says people who want to divert these substances to illicit markets "can do that easily through Canadian brokers or Canadian companies because there are simply no records, there is no monitoring of these movements." He notes that the government does not send the INCB the mandatory reports which it must submit in accordance with the conventions. "So, Canada is clearly in breach with the convention." However, Prof. Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., says the market for such drugs is "very limited." "The notion that Canada is a transshipment point, there's not much evidence that that takes place," he said. In its report, the INCB warns that cannabis abuse is rising in many parts of the world and continues to be the most popular drug of abuse in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Marijuana and hashish are among the popular drugs derived from cannabis. The report points to an upsurge in indoor cultivation of very potent strains of cannabis in Canada and the United States. The agency also says it has evidence of the illegal trafficking of highly potent cannabis from western Canada and Quebec to the United States. In addition, cannabis is being smuggled into Canada and the U.S. in large quantities, it says. The INCB is concerned that the indoor cultivation of very potent varieties of cannabis is being promoted over the internet "through Web sites located primarily on servers in Canada." Boyd says any concerns over cannabis are coming solely from the United States, where an outdated war on drugs continues. "There is no international alarm about cannabis," Boyd told The Canadian Press. "I think this is very restricted to America and I think that America is the country that is very out of step with the most civilized parts of the world." "The consistent theme in Western Europe is 'Let's reduce the harm from drugs, let's look at drug use and drug abuse as issues of public health.' And the United States is still trapped in a 50-year-old view that this is all about morality." The report notes that drug abuse appears to be at a lower level in Canada than in the United States although cocaine abuse is increasing in some Canadian cities. It finds the close economic ties between Canada and the United States "offer many possibilities for drug traffickers." The report says Europe and North America remain the major markets for illicit drugs, which are trafficked through countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Geneva (CP) Advance -- 4 a.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 23 February 22, 2000 Copyright  2000, Canoe Limited Partnership. Related Articles: U.S. Views Canada as Ally in Drug War Says Canada Not On Drug Blacklist 
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