Horse_racingECAD invites all interested to our annual research and policy seminar in cooperation with San Patrignano Community and WeFree Day,
October 15-17
, in Riccione, Italy.

This international event attracts many prominent guests and is a benchmark for many politicians concerned with drug policy developments.
This year we include a special study visit to San Patrignano Community due to the kind generosity of San Patrignano Community, it is a unique opportunity offered to ECAD guests only.

Please mark these dates in your calendar and contact ECAD Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the particulars. The number of people in the group is limited and we have already started listing the first participants.

More information and a detailed programme will be published here soon!

Background info:

Qat is packaged as tufts of leafy twigs, the leaves are chewable. Drug experts note that the effect produced by chewing is similar to cocaine intoxication; however, it often results in lethargy.  Khat 

Setting the scene

Like fire-flies they make for it. There is fresh “qat” again. The tiny square in Uithoorn in the vicinity of Amsterdam is flooded by  qat customers . They arrive from all over Europe. The Netherlands and Great Britain are the only countries in Europe where qat is a legal drug.

Four times a week a plane lands at Schiphol airport with 20.000 kilograms of fresh qat straight from Kenia. Tens of motor-cars from all corners of the world are waiting to take the consignment to all over  Europe. Especially to Somalian communities, who is the largest buyer.


The qat that comes to the Netherlands is often delievered by the northern route via Germany, Denmark and Sweden to Norway. The centre of this route is the Öresund bridge, which runs from Copenhagen in Danmark to Malmö in Sweden.

From Kenia to Schiphol airport in the Netherlands,  the drug comes further to Sweden in consignments of 100 kilos in average, 400-500 kilograms at the biggest.


Olle Schmidt, Swedish EU-parliamentarian, appeals to the Dutch authorities:

 “Due to the use of qat there are huge problems in Europe. There is poor integration in many communities. Family life is disrupted. Qat users often need € 25 per day, which diminishes the amount of money to be spent on families and house-keeping. Besides, the use of qat is detrimental to health.

 I appeal to the inhabitants of the Netherlands to have qat added to the list of the illegal narcotic drugs”.

Qat is an international issue

Qat is a huge problem also in Sweden. Among other places, the outskirts of Rosengård, the suburbs near the city of Malmö, have a big share of Somalian population. They tend to meet regularly in a certain district, were quite a lot of qat is used.

A spokesman of the community, Oman Adam, states:

“We have an Islamic culture, which forbids alcohol. In order to get slightly tipsy, we chew qat. I don’t take it anymore, because I tend to get sleeping problems. Somalian Muslim terror organisation, Al Shabaab, is the fastest growing branch of Al Quida and is only pleased that there is so much qat traffic. Intelligence Services and experts on terrorism are of the opinion that the money gained from drug-trafficking, a roughly estimated 60 to 150 million Euros, disappear in the pockets of Al Shabaab”.


Magnus Ranstorp, Swedish expert on terrorism also thinks that financing Al Shabaab is made possible by qat. The financial track ends in Dubai and the Golf-states. In June a Dutch radio program “This is the day” tracked down two Swedish-Somalian ex-smugglers. One of them explained that he had been smuggling qat twice a week for 3 years. The delivery took place via contact persons in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. He had stopped smuggling when he discovered that Al Shabaab pulled the strings in this business. Al Shabaab forbids the use of qat, but at the same time it makes a lot of money by trafficking the drug.


The Dutch qat problems

30 percent of 22.000 Somalians living in the Netherlands are abusing dole.  Dutch Somalians are dependent on social welfare more than any ethnic migration group. In Tilburg, 18 percent of Somalians between 12 and 17 years old are suspected of criminal actions. That is the highest percentage among young foreigners living in the country.

 Is there any solution for this problem? A possible way to start tackling problems in the Somalian community would be by prohibiting qat.

On the bright side, a mayor of Tilburg for a while now has been the present minister of Safety and Justice Mr. Ivo Opstelten, who is well informed about qat problems. He is also well-known for his rigorous measures regarding coffee shops and hemp-plants when acting as a mayor of Rotterdam. We certainly hope that minister Opstelten adds qat to the list of the forbidden substances in the Netherlands.



The mills of justice work slowly. It concerns battle against drugs in the Netherlands.

As early as 1992, in my capacity of a chairman of the society working with drug abuse, I already informed the authorities about qat problem and its free import to the Netherlands in TV-programmes etc.

Already in 1978 I warned about the risks of cannabis use, coffee shops and drug-trafficking in connection to that. Only now does the government take action, rather late, but let’s hope it’s not too late though! 


Jan Berlijn, ECAD correspondent in the Netherlands

Noted by Carla Maissan

54th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was held 21 - 25 of March. As a part of dynamic NGO community at the CND session in Vienna, ECAD was present at a number of significant events last week.

CND is a functional arm of ECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council) created to report and advise on all aspects of narcotic drugs` control, to add or remove drugs from international control under the UN Conventions. 53 members of CND are elected for 4 years among the UN member countries, all in all they comprise main policy-making body within the UN system on drug control. Not all of the CND meetings are open for the general public, also, only NGOs accredited by ECOSOC can be present at the CND and observe. 

Read more: ECAD at the 54th CND session in ViennaRead more: ECAD at the 54th CND session in ViennaThis session, Swedish Minister of Children and the Elderly, Mrs Maria Larsson made an engaging presentation at the CND Plenary Session, stressing obligations of the UN member countries to protect children from drugs and drug abuse.

Article 33 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (to be protected from narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances) was brought up by the Minister and many discussions followed that in NGO-led side events.
San Patrignano and Wired-In made a great success presentation on Recovery and Stephan Dahlgren and Roxana Stere invited by WFAD had valid and strong arguments at VNGOC side event on the Right of the Child to be protected from drugs from the human right and international law perspective.

 Minister Maria Larsson met personally NGO representatives from Africa, Latin America, Australia, USA and Europe later the same day, to note and to deal with their concerns on the ministerial level afterwards.

Read more: ECAD at the 54th CND session in ViennaAs a part of Vienna NGO Committee (VNGOC), ECAD and other Committee Board officers had a key role organizing NGO participation at the CND and informing new NGOs about the contribution they could make. This year NGOs were particularly active and many travelled a long way to have their voice heard and present their new publications at the CND. 

To make their presence more efficient and to get the guidance of the event many "newcomers" made the right step by joining Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (ECAD has a seat in the Board of the Committee).

VNGOC organised three informal dialogues this year, with new Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. Yury Fedotov, new Chair of the CND, Mrs. Veronika Kuchynova Smigolova and with the head of the INCB, Prof. Hamid Ghodse.

UNODC Executive Director answered plenty of questions coming from NGO representatives and most interesting questions and responses will be published at ECAD website soon

Welcome back!


On February 21 Vilnius Municipal Government organized an international conference titled as ”Youth without drugs: how could we help?”Read more: Vilnius talks about youth without drugs

The Conference was arranged by ECAD Advisory Board members for the City of Vilnius Mrs. Daiva Zelviene and Dr. Saulius Caplinskas.

The focus group was social pedagogues, public health specialists and other practitioners working with the youth and the conference gathered over hundred participants, including other Lithuanian cities such as Klaipeda, Kaunas, also Minsk, Belarus, Reykjavik, Iceland and Stockholm, Sweden.

Read more: Vilnius talks about youth without drugs

 There were many interesting speakers, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Health, Mr. Audrius Klisonis, Mrs. Natalija Zhukova from Minsk and Mr. Jón Sigfusson, researcher from Iceland.
ECAD’s director Jörgen Svidén gave a speech about successful drug policies in Europe.

ECAD appreciates the initiative of Vilnius municipality in arranging this qualitative conference and the unrelenting efforts in creating a better situation for our young citizens.


ECAD Advisory Board metin Cork, Ireland on February 4 to discuss ECAD activities for 2011.Read more: ECAD Advisory Board met in CorkThe meeting was fruitful and constructive with many good suggestions in making ECAD work more meaningful and efficient.
Beside positive budget and local offices` reports, one of the items on the agenda was an application of the city of Stavanger, Norway, to become a member of the Advisory Board.

Preparations for the annual conference in Varna, Bulgaria are in the full swing. Please follow our website that will be updated with general particulars on the accommodation, logistics, booking and registration in the coming days.

The city of Cork, the home town of Cllr. Jim Corr, ECAD Chairman, has arranged the meeting at the beautiful Cork City Council chambers.
Cllr. Michael O`Connell, Lord Mayor of Cork (picture, in the middle) expressed support and interest in ECAD work when he received AB members in his premises in the middle of a busy working day. 

 Advisory Board members were interested in local drug situation and drug policy developments in Cork. To inform on the local drug coordination activities and National Drugs Strategy structures, Local Drug Task Force Coordinator, Mr. David Lane was invited to the meeting.

ECAD Advisory Board thanks the City of Cork for its true engagement and generosity in providing every possibility to hold the most rewarding and informative meeting.



ECAD's activities from year to year culminate in the annual ECAD Mayors Conference, hosted by a distinct ECAD member city every summer. Councillors and other politicians and policymakers convene with academics and civil society organizations to participate in seminars and study visits, discussing the latest developments in drug prevention efforts throughout Europe.

27th Mayors Conference - Gothenburg and online 2022

The 27th Mayors' Conference and 8th World Forum took place in Gothenburg and online 13-14th June 2022.

The World Forum and Mayor’s Conference is a meeting place for people from all continents who are working to prevent drug abuse, ensure evidence-based and gender-sensitive practices, increase access to treatment, and to promote recovery and reintegration services. This global forum is one of its kind where NGOs, self-help groups, treatment centres, scholars, local, regional, and national authorities, politicians and other decision-makers, and others from around the world will meet to share evidence and best practice experiences. This year’s World Forum will include three main tracks: Prevention, Treatment/Recovery, and Advocacy, which will stretch over 1,5 days followed by the WFAD Congress and ECAD Mayors plenary session. 

We are proud to announce that the Forum was inaugurated by UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and will be joined by experts from around the world.

Read more on the website: and access the full report here
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26th Mayors Conference - Cork 2019



and 6th World Forum Against Drugs

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Conference materials

Kevin Sabet, PhD, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), USA
Speech at the WFAD /ECAD 25th Mayors Conference, Gothenburg, May 15, 2018 (Video 5min.)

Supply reduction in Peril?  A lot of the worlds`s drug supply emanates from a war-torn Columbia.
Dr. Michael Jonsson, FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Text to the slides (PDF)
In Columbia, a peace deal has been struck, which gives hope for a closure of insurgency and violence. (PDF)

Thomas Pietschmann, Dr, Drug Research Section, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs
The International drug control system, global/regional and national drug patterns and trends, and supply reduction efforts at the international level (PDF)


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Photo: Götaplatsen @ Klas Eriksson

Annual Mayors` Conference and the 6th World Forum Against Drugs will take off on May 14-15 in Gothenburg this year.
This joint event will address a growing interest to the effective prevention practices, full recovery and alternatives to incarceration and to life-long dependency on drug treatment.
The conference will create a room for elaborating a practical guide to how a recovery city will look like, this will be grounded on the recent evidence-based research.
Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Ghent University (Belgium) and the City of Gothenburg have already started working on this guide in practice.

In order to find out more and to register please visit a joint webpage here.

 WFAD logo jpg  Logo Gothenburg


Kaunas logotypeRegister to

ECAD 24th Mayors` Conference materials

On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosted ECAD 24th Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017

Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing

Key-note speakers:

David W. Spencer, Field intelligence Manager, Drug Enforcement Agency, European Region

Supply reduction and dismantling drug trafficking organizations: In what ways can local communities benefit (PDF)

Kim Nilvall, Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence section, Organized crime

Police work in socially disadvantaged areas in Sweden: Impact of drugs on urban crime (PDF)

 Torsten Stodiek, Deputy Head, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Community Policing Advisor, Transnational Threats Department, OSCE

Preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism:

A community and intelligence led policing approach (PDF)

Jon Sigfusson, Director for Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, ICSRA

Youth in Europe and Planet Youth (PDF)

Laimonas Vasiliauskas, Senior Specialist, Serious and Organized Crime Department, EUROPOL

European Illicit Drug Market (PDF)

 Antonio Boscini, Health Director, San Patrignano Community, Rimini, Italy

Recovery and social reinsertion: San Patrignano Community model extended (PDF)

a wall of participants



 Conference Booking Form

@ Rokas Tenys, the Kaunas Castle

Kaunas Castle
Picture: @Rokas Tenys

Warm welcome to Kaunas, Lithuania!

Archives of ECAD's mailed newsletters from 2003 until 2013. To subscribe to ECAD's new email-based newsletter, click here.
Official ECAD mission statements in six different European languages.
The ECAD Resolution, crafted at a conference to increase cooperation between cities, provides inspiration and hope for areas with particularly difficult drug problems. The signatories to the resolution will affirm their decision to fight against the spread of drugs.