I wrote this essay for my application for a human rights fellowship to fund my fall internship with the Drug Policy Alliance. I didn’t get the funding, but I’m sharing this essay as a proponent for new approaches to drug policy based on public health and human rights.
The Drug Policy Alliance (“DPA”) plays a prominent role in the ongoing international dialogue about the role of regulation, criminalization, and medicalization of controlled substances, along with their possession, use, and abuse, and disruption of the black markets in which they are bought and sold. Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann serves as an adviser to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which states as its purpose: “to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.” The Global Commission’s 2011 report galvanized leaders in Latin America to collaborate on a momentous report by the Organization of American States (OAS), calling for a reconsideration of drug prohibition as the most effective form of drug control policy. The OAS report favored an approach “in which drug use is treated as a public health issue and consumption reduced through evidence-based prevention campaigns.”