The Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies aims to stimulate the debate around legislative reforms by highlighting good practices and lessons learned in areas such as decriminalization, proportionality of sentences, specific harm reduction measures, alternatives to incarceration, and scheduling criteria for different substances. It also aims to encourage a constructive dialogue amongst policy makers, multilateral agencies and civil society in order to shape evidence-based policies that are grounded in the principles of human rights, public health and harm reduction.

  • 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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  • Cannabis policy reform in Europe

    Bottom up rather than top down
    Tom Blickman
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 28
    December 2014

    While in the Americas cannabis policy reform is taking off, Europe seems to be lagging behind. That is to say, in European nations at the level of national governments – where denial of the changing policy landscape and inertia to act upon calls for change reigns. At the local level, however, disenchantment with the current cannabis regime gives rise to new ideas. In several countries in Eu­rope, local and regional authorities are looking at regulation, either pressured by grassroots movements – in particular the Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) – or due to the involve­ment of criminal groups and public disorder.

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  • Reform der Cannabispolitik in Europa

    Eher Bottom-up als Top-down
    Tom Blickman
    Reihe Gesetzesreformen im Bereich der Drogenpolitik Nr. 28
    Dezember 2014

    Während die Reform der Cannabispolitik in Amerika Fahrt aufnimmt, scheint Europa hinterherzuhinken. Genauer gesagt, die europäischen Staaten auf nationaler Regierungsebene, wo die Leugnung der Veränderungen in der politischen Landschaft und die Trägheit bei der Reaktion auf Forderungen nach einem Wandel noch immer vorherrschen. Auf lokaler Ebene hingegen führt die Ernüchterung hinsichtlich der aktuellen Cannabispolitik zur Entstehung neuer Ideen. In verschiedenen europäischen Ländern prüfen lokale und regionale Behörden eine Regulierung, entweder unter dem Druck von Basisbewegungen – vor allem den Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC) – oder wegen der Verstrickung krimineller Gruppen und zur Aufrechterhaltung der öffentlichen Ordnung.

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  • Time for a Wake-up Call

    An historical and ethnographic approach to the Regulation of Plant-based Stimulants
    Anthony Henman* Pien Metaal
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 27
    December 2014

    The chemically-based frame of reference adopted by the UN Single Convention is mistaken in the culturally loaded and falsely “scientific” manner in which it was applied to different plants. With the proliferation of new stimulant substances – many of them based on plants used in “traditional” cultural settings in different parts of the world – a need has arisen to monitor not just the substances themselves, but also the social contexts in which they are being used.

  • The International Drug Control Regime and Access to Controlled Medicines

    Christopher Hallam
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 26
    December 2014

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that some 5.5 billion people around the globe inhabit countries with low to non-existent access to controlled medicines and have inadequate access to treatment for moderate to severe pain. This figure translates to over 80 per cent of the world's population. Only in a small number of wealthy countries do citizens stand a reasonable chance of gaining adequate access to pain care, though even here room for improvement remains.

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  • Scheduling in the international drug control system

    Christopher Hallam Dave Bewley-Taylor Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 25
    June 2014

    While often viewed as an obscure technical issue, the problem of scheduling lies at the core of the functioning of the international drug control system. Scheduling – the classification of a substance within a graded system of controls and restrictions, or 'schedules' – must take place in order for a substance to be included in the international control framework, and determines the type and intensity of controls to be applied. For this reason, the topic is of central importance.

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  • Cocaine: towards a self-regulation model

    New developments in Harm Reduction
    Grazia Zuffa
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 24
    February 2014

    By taking cues from users’ self-regulation strategies, it is possible to design innovative operational models for drug services as well as drug policies, strengthening Harm Reduction as an alternative approach to the disease model. A significant body of research on cocaine users recruited outside captive populations – that is, studies based on samples of users who have not been enrolled through drug addiction services – has been carried out in many European countries and outside Europe. These studies show a variety of patterns and trajectories of use other than “addictive” use.

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  • Working towards a legal coca market: The case of coca leaf chewing in Argentina

    Ricardo Abduca Pien Metaal
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 23
    June 2013

    Modern use of the coca leaf in Argentina provides a series of examples that could contribute to dispelling many of the myths that have polarized debate about the subject over the last few years. Argentine coca consumption does not fit commonly held preconceptions on the subject. Furthermore, the social acceptance and legitimacy of the habit has created an absurd situation in which the sale and possession of coca leaf for consumption is legal, but the supply and wholesale purchase of it are prohibited, and therefore part of an illegal circuit.

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  • Bogotá’s medical care centres for drug addicts (CAMAD)

    An initative wedged between political discourse and technical action
    Julián Quintero
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 22
    November 2012

    In September 2012, the mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, launched the first centre for drug addicts in the Bronx, a marginalised city-centre neighbourhood. Called the Medical Care Centre for Dependent Drug Users (Centro de Atención Médica a Drogo­dependientes - CAMAD), it is staffed by psy­chiatrists, psychologists, doctors and nurses. The people given care in these cen­tres are in an at-risk situation and socially excluded due to their high levels of drug dependency.

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  • A breakthrough in the making?

    Shifts in the Latin American drug policy debate
    Amira Armenta Pien Metaal Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 21
    June 2012

    Remarkable drug policy developments are taking place in Latin America. This is not only at the level of political debate, but is also reflected in actual legislative changes in a number of countries. All in all there is an undeniable regional trend of moving away from the ‘war on drugs’. This briefing ex­plains the background to the opening of the drug policy debate in the region, summa­rises the most relevant aspects of the on­going drug law reforms in some countries, and makes a series of recommendations that could help to move the debate forward in a productive manner.

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