Tag Archive | "drugs"

Indonesia execution announcement prompts threat of sanctions

On Saturday April 25th, Indonesia notified families of nine foreigners convicted of drug crimes– from Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and Nigeria—that the prisoners will be transported to Nusa Kambangan “execution island” and killed by firing squad this week. The announcement arrives after months of international condemnation of Indonesia’s policies regarding the death penalty.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australian citizens, have been imprisoned in Indonesia since 2006 and face execution Tuesday. (Reuters) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/indonesia-delays-execution-australian-convicts-150220072517990.html
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australian citizens, have been imprisoned in Indonesia since 2006 and face execution Tuesday. [Reuters]

Two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, arrested in 2006 for being ringleaders in the drug-smuggling group deemed the “Bali Nine” are among those listed for execution. Indonesia delayed the execution of Chan and Sukumaran in February for “technical reasons” and tensions have remained high between Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indonesia’s Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo. “We abhor the death penalty, we regard it as barbaric,” Abbott said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. “We will find ways of making our displeasure known.” In March, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a two-fold offer – a prisoner swap, and an offer to pay the costs of ongoing life imprisonment, should Indonesia spare Chan and Sukumaran’s lives. This followed more than 50 appeals for clemency. Indonesia rejected the offer, claiming that there was no legal basis for such an arrangement.

Serge Atlaoui, a French citizen whose case has prompted widespread protests throughout France, was granted a temporary two-week reprieve, however the reason for this remains unclear.  “We remain extremely cautious. Everything can change from one day to the next,” said Richard Sedillot, Atlaoui’s lawyer.

In January, Indonesia executed six alleged drug offenders, including five foreigners. The killings prompted Brazil and the Netherlands, two countries in which the prisoners had citizenship, to recall their ambassadors.

Protesters hold signs reading “Save Serge Atlaoui” at a rally in eastern France Saturday. (AFP Poto/Alexandre Marchi) http://news.yahoo.com/photos/protesters-hold-signs-reading-save-serge-atlaoui-april-photo-211646816.html
Protesters hold signs reading “Save Serge Atlaoui” at a rally in eastern France Saturday. [AFP Poto/Alexandre Marchi]

And on Saturday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Indonesia’s government to reverse their decision. “The secretary general urges President Joko Widodo to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition,” said a spokesperson.

The executions may have far-reaching implications on trade relations.  Australian trade minister Andrew Robb ended negotiations over a free-trade agreement with Indonesia after the executions were announced. Trade between the two countries totaled almost $15 billion in 2013, however some analysts remain skeptical that Australia will take any real action. While no nation has officially announced plans for sanctions, French President Hollande discussed Atlaoui’s case following the announcement Saturday saying, “if he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe because we cannot accept this type of execution.”

With the widespread coverage of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev capital Boston bombing trial in the U.S.  and the increasing tensions in Indonesia and around the world, the debate regarding capital punishment and the means in which it is conducted  in the U.S. and overseas remains a heated one.

Bree Plasters is a 3L and the outgoing Executive Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Uruguayan president José Mujica

Critical Analysis: Uruguay’s New Law to Legalize Marijuana

by Laura Brodie, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

November 1, 2014

On December 10, 2013, the country of Uruguay made headlines around the world by passing a law to legalize marijuana throughout the country.  The law is considered a victory for many yet others remain skeptical about its effectiveness as the country continues to wage the war on drugs.  What appears more impressive, however, is the detailed plan and system Uruguay hopes to implement with the passage of the act as it comes into effect (likely) in 2014 and if not, in 2015.  Not only is the new law a tremendously bold step for this South American country, it could potentially have the effect of starting a trend not only in Latin America but other parts of the world.

Uruguay flag marijuana leaf

In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize marijuana. Image Source: shutterstock.com

Uruguay’s previous law concerning marijuana use was Law No. 14.294, passed in 1974, and has since then been modified by Law No. 17.016 in 1998 and Law No. 19.172 in December 2013.  Law No. 17.016 added the language “chemical precursors or other chemical products” to be included in drug laws, which before that amendment only discussed psychoactive and narcotic substances.  The fundamental change to the law came through the 2013 legislation, however.  Law No. 19.172 specifically states that with regard to marijuana in particular, the Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute must authorize the growing or cultivation of those plants and those activities will be under the direct control of that Institute.

Additionally, Article 6 of the 2013 law qualifies the previous law to state that anyone who produces marijuana by planting, growing, and harvesting marijuana plants with psychoactive effects in accordance with the provisions in Article 3 of (Law No. 19.172) will not be liable for prosecution, which is a dramatic change from the previous law.  Before, the law imposed penalties of imprisonment ranging from 20 months to 10 years for anyone who, without legal authorization, produced substances capable of producing psychological dependency.  Another interesting change is that Article 31 of Law No. 14.294 decriminalized anyone who possessed a reasonable quantity, exclusively for his or her personal consumption, but Article 7 of the 2013 law sets the quantity of allowable marijuana at 40 grams.

The unique aspect of Uruguay’s law is the elaborate system created to regulate the legal production, sale, and consumption of the drug.  The country is setting the price for legal cannabis at around $0.87 per gram, and the rules mandate that one must be either a Uruguayan citizen or a permanent resident in order to purchase marijuana.  The law allows people to grow up to six plants at home and produce at most 480 grams per year.  Also, marijuana clubs with memberships of 15-45 people will be legal.

Uruguayan president José Mujica

Uruguayan president José Mujica signed legislation making Uruguay the first country in the world to legalize marijuana. Image Source: anarquista.net

It appears that Uruguay initiated this new trend of legalizing marijuana use to achieve several goals.  First, the government wants to undercut the black market by offering marijuana at a low price, making it more readily available, and identifying those who are buying and selling it.  Also, the country realized that there was an increase in consumption when marijuana was prohibited, so this law is an attempt to change that and hopefully take care of those who abuse drugs (money from the taxation of cannabis will partially be used to treat those with addictions).  The country has a stupendous goal of trying to track every gram sold by bar-coding bags and containing the genetic information of plants that are legally produced, but this system will only work if enough resources are used to implement the plan correctly.

Although reportedly the sales of legal cannabis have been delayed and will not commence until 2015, it will be interesting to follow the success of the new law and its implementing program to determine whether or not Uruguay’s bold move will be a trendsetter in Latin America and other areas around the world where legislators are considering whether or not to legalize marijuana.


Laura Brodie is a 3L law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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real or fake pill

Critical Analysis: The Risk of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals and How to Stem the Flow

Though the term is defined differently in different countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with a working definition of what constitutes a counterfeit drug in an effort to understand the global implications of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and to facilitate the exchange of information between countries regarding this issue.  An estimated 5% of world trade in branded products is counterfeit. Pharmaceuticals are an attractive product for counterfeiting for a variety of factors, the most problematic of which are the difficulty in detecting counterfeits, and lack of a global standard system of enforcement.

real or fake pill

The red pill shows you how deep the rabbit hole goes; the fake red pill will make you sick.

The pharmaceutical market is becoming more and more globalized. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that worldwide sales of counterfeit pharmaceuticals exceed $3.5 billion per year. An estimated 80 percent of the active ingredients used in U.S. drugs are made in other countries. 77% of active ingredients for medicines produced in China are exported, and India exports 75% of the active ingredients manufactured there. The problem is even worse in developing countries, where an estimated 25% of medicine sold in street markets is fake.

Though the U.S. pharmaceutical industry suffers $20 billion in financial losses annually due to counterfeit drug trade, the dangers of counterfeit drugs are more than economical. Counterfeit drugs can contain dangerous filler and/or substitute ingredients, contaminants, incorrect quantities of an active ingredient, or no active ingredients at all. In the U.S., negligent production at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy sickened more than 600 people, killing 44, from September 2012 to January 2013. At least 62 people died in 2007 and 2008 after being given contaminated heparin, a blood thinner, made in China. Examples like this are frequent and extreme.

In 2006, the WHO created the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT).  This taskforce aims to foster collaboration between all levels of participants in the global pharmaceuticals market. One suggested method of stemming the flow of counterfeit drugs is the track and trace system. Countries have begun to implement track and trace legislation, or similar legislation to combat the counterfeit drug problem. Where there is no legislation in place, the flow of counterfeit drugs into and out of a country is unfettered, and there is no measure of how tainted the national market for pharmaceuticals may become.

In the U.S., The Drug Quality and Security Act was passed in November 2013, giving the FDA more power to regulate compounded drugs. It is estimated that by 2017, track and trace regulations will be in place that cover more than 70% of pharmaceuticals worldwide. In order for these regulations to be successful, they have to be implemented correctly.

Not only does legislation have to exist, it must deter criminal activity of this sort. Deterrence is nonexistent without adequate enforcement. Enforcement via government regulatory agencies is important, but pharmaceutical companies can contribute by better policing fraudulent use of registered trademarks. Medical professionals can help by staying up-to-date on their knowledge of medicines that have been counterfeited, learning which medicines are most likely to be counterfeited, and by reporting any suspect packaging, labeling, and patient complaints about prescription medicines. Consumers can help by refraining from generating demand for counterfeit drugs by obtaining their prescription pharmaceuticals legitimately. If consumers purchase prescription medications online, they should purchase from Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS). In order for any of these behaviors to be effective, there must be cooperation between participants in the pharmaceutical market. All levels must work together to implement and maintain a solution to this very urgent and dangerous problem.


Katelynn Merkin is a 2L and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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University of Denver Sturm College of Law

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