New Drug Policy Report of the Organization of American States Reviews Drug Policy Overhaul: Highest Level Report to Date

May 17, 2013, 12:24 ET from Open Society Foundations

BOGOTA, Colombia, May 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Open Society Foundations today welcomed a game-changing report on drug control that considers possible alternatives to current drug policies internationally.

"The review explores what can be done in a post-drug war world," said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, Director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program. "This report envisions a number of possibilities that will broaden the current debate on drug policy reform."

The Organization of American States review, commissioned at last year's Cartagena Summit of the Americas, reflects the growing dissatisfaction with the status quo. Several Latin American heads-of-state, frustrated with the failure and counterproductive nature of existing drug control structures, pushed for this review.

David Holiday, Senior Regional Advocacy Officer for the Open Society Latin America Program, said, "This is the beginning of an international conversation on a new approach to drugs. We can hope this will move policies from those currently based in repression to strategies rooted in public health and human rights."

It is notably the first time any major multilateral agency has given a serious and detailed visualization to alternatives to prohibition including legal market regulation or reform of the UN drug conventions.

This report envisions different possibilities for the future of drug policy between now and 2025. It lays out a range of scenarios including many that would have been unthinkable a few short years ago.

"While leaders have talked about moving from 'criminalization' to 'public health' in drug policy, punitive, abstinence-only approaches have still predominated, even in the health sphere," said Daniel Wolfe, Director of the Open Society International Harm Reduction Program. "These scenarios offer a chance for leaders to replace indiscriminate detention and rights abuses with approaches that distinguish between users and traffickers and offer the community-based health services that work best for those in need."

The Scenarios Report is a major development in the debate on global drug policy reform. This document will also be followed by a review at the national level on Tuesday, when the Colombia Advisory Commission on Drug Policy will produce a report focusing on the results and impacts of national drug strategies.

The United Nations General Assembly will convene a special session on drugs in 2016 and it is hoped the scenarios envisioned by the Organization of American States will influence some of the discussion.

SOURCE Open Society Foundations