Plants, Psychoactive Substances and the International Narcotics Control Board: The Control of Nature and the Nature of Control
Human Rights and Drugs, Volume 2, No. 1, 2012
12 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014
Date Written: January 1, 2012
This article reviews and critiques the International Narcotic Control Board’s (INCB) 2010 Annual Report’s recommendation about plant materials containing psychoactive substances. It ﬁrst provides an overview of the United Nations drug control system, then contextualises the INCB’s role in the UN system. Through a reading of the text of the INCB’s 2010 Report and references to contemporary practices of ayahuasca drinking based in ﬁeld work, the article shows how this Report ﬁts into the international paradigm of the war on drugs and its conﬂicts with human rights. It is argued that the Board’s recommendation demonstrates an unwarranted attempt to extend the scope of its powers, conﬂates and thus misrepresents widely diverse plant materials and their eﬀects, fails to distinguish between ‘use’ and ‘abuse’ of psychoactive substances and appears to assume that particular elements of culture — speciﬁcally, traditions involving psychoactive substance use — are, or should be, static, eternally frozen in time and place.
Keywords: drug control, ayahuasca, war on drugs, drug policy, human rights, psychoactive substances, cultural rights, indigenous peoples
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