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

Human rights and drug policy

An accessible but comprehensive primer on why TNI believes that human rights must be at the heart of any debate on drug control.

The Current State of Counternarcotics Policy and Drug Reform Debates in Myanmar

Are Myanmar's current drug policies effective? How do they impact important issues such as human rights, sustainable development, ethnic conflict, and the peace process?

Prospects for Treaty Reform and UN Coherence on Drug Policy

Can UNGASS 2016 realistically initiate a process of modernizing the global drug control system and breathe oxygen into a system risking asphyxiation?

Towards a Healthier Legal Environment

The decision of the Myanmar Government to review drug laws is not only timely, but also offers a prospect to improve the drugs legislation and to ensure that the laws address drug-related problems in the country more effectively.