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

Mexico: Challenging Drug Prohibition from Below

The horrific forced disappearance of 43 students in Iguala reveals how organised crime and corruption thrive in conditions of institutional or democratic weakness, shaped to a large extent by distinctive transnational relations (importantly, in this case, with the US). Fortunately groups like the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity are showing a burgeoning ‘social power‘ that has the potential to change politics and policy.

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The International Drug Control Regime and Access to Controlled Medicines

In poor and developing nations pain remains largely uncontrolled. Africa is the least well served continent for access to analgesia.

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Making a Mountain out of a Molehill: Myths on Youth and Crime in Saint Lucia

Caribbean states face challenges of youth involvement in crime, violence, gangs and other anti-social activities. It is not uncommonly heard the “drug problem” is to be blamed for this. This briefing wants to show this relation is far more complex and often misunderstood.

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.