There is an undeniable regional trend of moving away from the ‘war on drugs’ in Latin America. This briefing explains the background, summarises the state of ongoing drug law reforms, and makes recommendations to move the debate forward.
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.
Mexico City — Today, the Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho, CEDD) will release a series of new studies showing that mass incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses has increased across the region.
Paraguay is the principal producer of cannabis in South America. Despite its importance as a supplier of cannabis in South America, there has been a surprising absence of serious studies of its impact on its own society, and on the play of offer and demand in neighbouring countries.
Cannabis (or marihuana) is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances in the world. According to the United Nations World Drug Report, 183 million people, or 3.8% of the world’s population, used cannabis in 2014. Its cultivation was also reported by 129 countries. Cannabis is subject to the United Nations System for International Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (hereafter “drugs”) and is the most widely consumed of all the drugs. According to that control system, cannabis is among the substances with the strictest legal status; they are the most prohibited, supposedly because of the harm they cause and their lack of medical usefulness.
This research by the Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho, CEDD) analyzes a duality facing Latin America: the prohibitionist discourse and its effects on human rights persist, alongside reforms to laws and policies related to the use of cannabis.
Societies in the Americas have coexisted with smokable cocaines for over four decades, but - surprisingly - there is a dearth of research on the development of the market, or much first-hand evidence of how this substance is actually commercialized and used by millions of people in the region. After a few years of field research, our study on the topic will be launched at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Smokable cocaines are commonly referred to as “the most harmful drug”, and considered not just a threat to public health, but also to public security in the urban centres of many large cities. As a result, its users are frequently subject to hostility and stigmatization.
From 2014 to 2018, our research partners in Latin American and Caribbean cities gathered information from people who use or sell smokable cocaine, in order to identify key patterns in the regional markets of smokable cocaine. The information and testimonials we gathered reveal a lack of policy responses beyond punitive measures. Meanwhile, myths and misunderstandings about smokable cocaine and its users prevail. Read on below as we attempt to debunk the four most common myths.