• Fixing a broken system

    Modernizing drug law enforcement in Latin America
    Juan Carlos Garzón Vergara
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 29
    December 2014

    Despite efforts by governments in Latin America, illicit drugs continue to provide one of the largest incomes for criminal organizations, enabling them to penetrate and corrupt political and social institutions. Criminal organizations exploit the vulnerabilities of the state and take advantage of governments’ inability to provide security to their citizens. With few exceptions, the weak capacity of Latin American governments is reflected in high rates of homicides, notorious levels of impunity, and the feeling of mistrust that citizens harbour regarding justice institutions and the police.

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  • Does tougher enforcement make drugs more expensive?

    Harold A. Pollack & Peter Reuter
    Addiction, 109: 1959–1966. doi: 10.1111/add.12497
    December 2014

    Although the fact of prohibition itself raises prices far above those likely to pertain in legal markets, there is little evidence that raising the risk of arrest, incarceration or seizure at different levels of the distribution system will raise prices at the targeted level, let alone retail prices. The number of studies available is small; they use a great variety of outcome and input measures and they all face substantial conceptual and empirical problems. Given the high human and economic costs of stringent enforcement measures, particularly incarceration, the lack of evidence that tougher enforcement raises prices call into question the value, at the margin, of stringent supply-side enforcement policies in high-enforcement nations.

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  • The Northern Triangle’s drugs-violence nexus

    The role of the drugs trade in criminal violence and policy responses in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
    Liza Ten Velde
    TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Papers Nr 19
    November 2012

    Mexico has occupied the limelight when it comes to media attention focusing on drug-related violence in Latin America. However, it is actually Central America's Northern Triangle – consisting of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – currently experiencing much higher rates of violence and increasing Drug Trafficking Organization (DTOs) activity, thus providing an illustration of the 'balloon effect' previously experienced by Mexico itself after the implementation of Plan Colombia which was conceived at the end of the 90's. Together the countries of the Northern Triangle now form one of the most violent regions on earth.

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  • The Alternative World Drug Report

    Counting the Costs of the War on Drugs
    Transform
    June 2012

    The Alternative World Drug Report, launched to coincide with publication of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2012 World Drug Report, exposes the failure of governments and the UN to assess the extraordinary costs of pursuing a global war on drugs, and calls for UN member states to meaningfully count these costs and explore all the alternatives.

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  • The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS

    The global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners. Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that repressive drug law enforcement practices force drug users away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risk becomes markedly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic. Today, there are an estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV – and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

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  • If Supply-Oriented Drug Policy is Broken, Can Harm Reduction Help Fix It?

    Melding Disciplines and Methods to Advance International Drug Control Policy
    Victoria Greenfield & Letizia Paoli
    United States Naval Academy Department of Economics
    Working Paper 30
    August 2010

    Critics of the international drug control regime contend that supply-oriented policy interventions are not just ineffective, but they also produce unintended adverse consequences. Research suggests their claims have merit. Lasting local reductions in opium production are possible, albeit rare; but, unless global demand shrinks, production will shift elsewhere, with little or no effect on the aggregate supply of heroin and, potentially, at some expense to exiting and newly emerging suppliers.

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  • Effect of Drug Law Enforcement on Drug-Related Violence

    Evidence from a Scientific Review
    Dan Werb, Greg Rowell, Gordon Guyatt, Thomas Kerr, Julio Montaner, Evan Wood
    International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP)
    April 2010

    This report consists of a scientific review that illustrates the relationship between drug law enforcement and drug-related violence. Violence is among the primary concerns of communities around the world, and research from many settings has demonstrated clear links between violence and the illicit drug trade, particularly in urban settings. While violence has traditionally been framed as resulting from the effects of drugs on individual users (e.g., drug-induced psychosis), violence in drug markets and in drug-producing areas such as Mexico is increasingly understood as a means for drug gangs to gain or maintain a share of the lucrative illicit drug market.

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  • Evaluation of Dutch Drug Policy

    English summary
    Margriet Van Laar (Trimbos-instituut) & Marianne van Ooyen-Houben (WODC) eds.
    Trimbos-instituut (Utrecht) / WODC (The Hague)
    June 2009

    The main purpose of this evaluation was to determine to what extent the principal goal of Dutch drug policy has been achieved, as stated in the 1995 Policy Document on Drugs (Drugsnota). This asserts the primacy of protecting public health, and thus gives priority to drugs prevention and to the management of the individual and social risks that arise from drug use.

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  • Towards a harm reduction approach to enforcement

    Jonathan P Caulkins and Peter Reuter
    Safer Communities Volume 8 Issue 1
    January 2009

    Harm-reduction as a policy goal implies targeting directly drug-related harms rather than drug use itself. So far it has been largely a public health sector movement, focused on harms to users, most notably from heroin overdose, injection drug use and club drugs. Harm-reduction has offered fewer solutions to the problems of drug-related crime, violence, corruption or market externalities. However, harm-reduction has potentially much broader application when applied to the entire suite of harms generated by the production, distribution, consumption and control of drugs, not just drug use.

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  • Police, Harm Reduction, and HIV

    International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD)
    April 2008

    Injecting drug users (IDUs) account for the largest share of HIV infections in China, Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, and much of Southeast Asia. Harm reduction measures such as access to clean needles and drug treatment with methadone or buprenorphine have been proven to reduce HIV risk behaviors. Yet law enforcement officials in many countries harass drug users at drug treatment clinics and needle exchange points, confiscate their medications, or arrest them for possession of clean syringes. These police practices help fuel the HIV epidemic by driving drug users away from lifesaving care while doing little to stem drug use.

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