Legislative Innovation in Drug Policy

12 November 2009
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This briefing summarizes good practices in legislative reforms around the world, representing steps away from a repressive zero-tolerance model towards a more evidence-based and humane drug policy.

The examples provide lessons learned in practice about less punitive approaches and their impact on levels of drug use and drugrelated harm to the individual and society. Evidence suggests that legislation lessening criminalization combined with shifting resources from law enforcement and incarceration to prevention, treatment and harm reduction is more effective in reducing drug-related problems.

About the authors

Martin Jelsma

Martin Jelsma is a political scientist who has specialised in Latin America and international drugs policy.  In 2005, he received the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship, which stated that Jelsma "is increasingly recognized as one of, if not the, outstanding strategists in terms of how international institutions deal with drugs and drug policy."

In 1995 he initiated and has since co-oordinated TNI's Drugs & Democracy Programme which focuses on drugs and conflict studies with a focus on the Andean/Amazon region, Burma/Myanmar and Afghanistan, and on the analysis and dialogues around international drug policy making processes (with a special focus on the UN drug control system). Martin is a regular speaker at international policy conferences and advises various NGOs and government officials on developments in the drugs field. He is co-editor of the TNI Drugs & Conflict debate papers and the Drug Policy Briefing series.

Recent publications from Drugs and Democracy

Global Experiences with Harm Reduction for Stimulants and New Psychoactive Substances

The Expert Seminar on the Global Experiences with Harm Reduction for Stimulants and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), an initiative of the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Forum Droghe, took place in Rome on May 20, 2014 at Università Pontificia Lateranense. A total of 23 people attended the meeting, representing research and academic institutions as well as non-governmental organizations working in the field.

Drugs, armed conflict and peace

This policy briefing analyses the results of the partial agreement on drugs reached at the talks being held in Havana between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, and the Colombian government.

Scheduling in the international drug control system

Scheduling is mostly priotised in it's repressive pole, though present debates are increasingly highlighting the need to modify the balance of the system in order to affirm the importance of the principle of health.

Bouncing Back

TNI's indepth examination of the illegal drug market in the Golden Triangle, which has witnessed a doubling of opium production, growing prison populations and repression of small-scale farmers. This report details the failure of ASEAN's 'drug free' strategy and the need for a new approach.