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U.S and Sweden Host Discussions on Drug Policy Reforms under the Existing UN Conventions

During the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs High Level Segment the Governments of the United States and Sweden met with countries seeking to preserve the existing three UN Drug Control Conventions and to promote public health approaches to drug policy.  The ad hoc meeting was chaired by Michael Botticelli, U.S. Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy, and Maria Larsson, Swedish Minister of Health for Children and the Elderly. Participating countries were Italy, United Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Acting Director Botticelli reiterated United States opposition to both drug legalization and a law enforcement-only, "war on drugs" approach. He explained the U.S. is promoting, both at home and abroad, increased public health and justice sector collaboration to support the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and save lives.

Minister Larsson expressed Sweden’s strong support for balanced policies under the three UN Conventions. She also called on governments to provide information to the public and local officials on the serious health and cognitive consequences of the use of marijuana and other drugs.

The participants also heard a brief presentation by the Director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on research and science on the disease of addiction that guides U.S. national drug control policy.  Dr. Volkow, who co-chaired the Scientific Consultation meeting organized by the UNODC, discussed the huge advances in neuroscience, which demonstrate that addiction is a brain disease that, like other diseases, can be addressed through evidence-based treatment, including appropriate medications.

The group agreed to exchange information and to continue to meet on the margins of future international meetings to discuss how to support the Conventions, disseminate science-based information on drug use, and identify interventions that combine the capabilities of the health and justice sectors.