World anti-drug forum gathers experts in Stockholm

Stockholm will this week play host to experts, politicians, police and anti-drug activists from 82 countries to share ideas and devise strategies for stopping drug abuse worldwide.

“100 years of drug prevention,” will be the theme of the first edition of the World Forum Against Drugs (WFAD) conference to be held from Monday to Wednesday with a large range of speakers reflecting on the lessons learned.

Featuring such high-profile panelists as John Walters, who heads the US National Drug Control Policy and has been dubbed the “Drug Czar” of Washington, the conference aims to stake out the road “forward to the visionary goal of a world free from drug abuse.”

“World Forum regards the non-medicinal use (abuse) of narcotic substances as a severe public health problem and major problem for society,” organisers said on the WFAD website.

According to Gunnar Aagren, who heads up conference participant the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, the only way to solve the problem of wide-spread drug abuse is through active prevention efforts.

“Limiting the accessibility of drugs is vital in the efforts to eliminate drug abuse, and prevention work is the only long-term solution,” he said in a recent statement.

Among the issues to be discussed at WFAD are the facts and myths surrounding cannabis, the link between human trafficking and drugs, and the increasing sale of drugs over the Internet.

Several experts are also set to detail how the booming drug production in Afghanistan is impacting availability on world markets, while physicians and psychiatrists are scheduled to describe how drug use affects the brain.

The conference will also feature testimonies from former drug addicts like a Swede whose narcotics habit landed him in so much debt that he attempted to smuggle cocaine from Bolivia to Sweden to make some fast cash.

He got caught and spent nearly four years in a Bolivian prison.

The conference is set to wrap up with the passing of a resolution to be sent to the United Nations in time for a UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs scheduled for the first half of 2009, organisers said.

“The resolution will convey the strong popular support that exists all around the world for the UN’s narcotics conventions,” the WFAD website said, adding that the “World Forum marks the start of a global network of organisations united behind the UN’s narcotics conventions.”