Friday, July 20, 2012

German translation of Transform's 'Blueprint for Regulation' published

Transform is pleased to announce that our groundbreaking 2009 publication 'After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation' has been translated and republished in German, joining existing translations in Spanish (pdf) and Italian (print). The German version is available for download as a pdf, and in hard copy.

We are extremely greatful to our colleagues at Akzept for publishing this new German edition, in particular Prof Dr Heino Stöver for all his work with the translation and production.  Please alert any German-speaking contacts who may be interested, or contact Transform with suggestions for potential audiences or individuals to send print copies.

Below is the text of the new foreword from Transform:

It is a delight to be writing the foreword to the German translation of “Blueprint”. Little did we know when we launched the book that it would have the international resonance that it has. This is the third translation since the UK launch in 2009, adding to the Spanish and Italian versions. The e‐book version has been downloaded more than 350,000 times, it has received the endorsement by the editor of the British Medical Journal, has been widely referenced in a range of publications and journals, and we have been invited to speak about it in countries across Europe and as far afield as Mexico and Thailand. Over 5000 print copies have been disseminated to policy makers, opinion formers, academics and activists around the world, and other language versions are in the pipeline.

The War on Drugs is a disaster by any objective measure. However, to change an emotive and deeply entrenched 50 year‐old global policy, it will not be enough to demonstrate that the current approach is failing. We must also show the world what the alternative could look like. One of the key aims of the book is to fill a gap in the drug policy reform debate about how post‐prohibition models of regulation could practically function. In the two years since publication it has usefully achieved this goal. And, whilst it never sought to answer all the questions, it has at least provided a much firmer foundation for debate around the feasibility of drug regulation in a post‐prohibition world.

And this is not just a utopian dream ‐ a number of developments have taken place in the last year that will make “Blueprint” a practical political tool. 2011 saw the publication of the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Amongst the distinguished grouping of commissioners are the former General Secretary of the United Nations and six former heads of state. Along with a range of pragmatic recommendations in the report was a clear call to “Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens”. And since the Global Commission report the debate has leapt onto the political agenda, with a number of sitting heads of state in Latin American countries publicly calling for a meaningful debate on alternatives to prohibition, including models of legal drug market regulation. President Santos of Colombia called for a review of global drug policy, asking that “all options be put on the table”. President Obama announced that legalisation look at “where the drug laws are doing more harm than good”. And the President of Guatemala called for legalisation and regulation to undermine the criminal gangs in Central America. In 2012 the Organisation of American States will conduct a review of drug policy in the Americas, and this book could be used to model one of the policy options.

The approach taken in “Blueprint” has been to present the options for regulation in a clear, rational, pragmatic and non confrontational way in order to achieve the goals that everyone can agree upon – the desire for a safer, healthier society. In doing so we have effectively challenged some of the common myths about legalisation and regulation. Our experience has been that the book facilitates engagement even with those who take issue with the detail of the proposed models – from the most ardent “drug warriors” to the most passionate free market libertarians (interestingly it has been the latter that have been most vocally critical). Such disagreement and debate still represents progress as it indicates how we are now debating principles and detail of effective regulation rather than whether or not regulation is needed.

Germany has historically been a world leader in implementing harm reduction in dealing with drug use, a country prepared to put aside ideology and instead operate a pragmatic approach to dealing with the reality of drug use and misuse. Germany could, if it chooses take the next step and put legal regulation firmly on the international agenda and link the debate in Latin America with the one taking place in Europe. At a time when we are all experiencing the worst economic recession of modern times, Germany could use the opportunity to challenge the drug war as a significant waste of dwindling financial resources.

Progress will be slow, it has taken 50 years to get where we are today and the global prohibition will not be unravelled overnight, but the momentum for change now appears unstoppable. Europe is a key regional driver of drug policy and law reform so we are delighted to welcome this new German language translation that can bring Blueprint to an ever more diverse audience, and ultimately to fruition. Lastly we must say a huge thank you to Heino Stöver and the akzept team for their efforts in making this translation happen.

Steve Rolles and the Transform Team. May 2012

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