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Drug policies given focus by UN, but little change expected

Recently, a UN General Assembly Special Session was convened to examine current drug policies. Among those in attendance were advocates who would like to see a change in approach to what they consider a public health problem rather than a criminal issue.

Specifically, there were proposals made to find ways for member countries to create drug policies that acknowledge drug dependency as a health disorder that needs to be dealt with through rehabilitation and treatment.

Ultimately, the recommendations accepted at the UNGASS did little to alter the discussion regarding drugs as a health issue. Instead, officials tasked with changing drug policies were asked to consider that those with addiction issues be given access to clean needles and other harm-reduction services. Additionally, they were asked to look at decriminalizing drug offenses that were minor and nonviolent in nature.

One advocate and drug policy expert expressed her belief that the session produced little change. But she stated that a small step had been taken in the right direction. The policy expert also expressed her fear that some of the countries will still place a greater emphasis on incarceration rather than public health.

Of course, the United States is free to change its drug policies should it choose to do so. But if the U.N.'s apparent lack of interest in shifting focus away from prohibition and punishment to treatment and recovery is any indication, then it appears the war on drugs will retain its present shape for some time to come.

And as such, those who are charged with having committed drug offenses will continue to face the prospect of serious penalties. Therefore, if you or someone in your family has been arrested on drug charges, be it for a possession, manufacturing or trafficking, it is vital to get to work preparing a strong defense.

An experienced New Jersey drug crimes attorney could be of aid in formulating an effective legal strategy. The attorney could go over all the evidence that the prosecution is planning to use and help you determine the best course of action.

Source: ABC News, "Some Health Experts Lukewarm on UN Drug Policy Meeting," Gillian Mohney, Apr, 22, 2016

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