Latin America has long promoted a war on drugs approach. However, the significant levels of violence, as well as other health and social harms related to repressive drug control have led several countries across the region to call for an open debate on drug policy across the region. Uruguay has moved a step further by legally regulating its cannabis market.
The Congress ‘Drugs, Politics and culture: Perspectives from Brazil-Mexico’ (5th-6th October 2015) has concluded with a strong statement against the ‘unintended consequences’ of the current drug control regime.
Suppressing the market for illegal substances has created distortions in this institution’s responsibilities, had a negative influence on its relationship with citizens, dispersed limited state resources, and generated perverse incentives.
Ecuador's National Council for Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances (Consep) has announced a new scale to use to differentiate between drug users, microtraffickers and large scale traffickers when handing down prison sentences.
While many countries have in recent years eased restrictions on access to vital medicines for pain relief, Guatemala has bucked the trend with a new initiative, a move which will lead to the unnecessary suffering of patients in the country.
Participants in the seminar debated the international drug control system and the role that Latin America will play in the UNGASS on the world drug problem, in light of the positions taken on this issue by MERCOSUR, CELAC and UNASUR.
CELS highlights the different strategies used in countries across the Americas to tackle the drugs problem. It discusses the prohibitionist approach which has led to militarisation, violence, criminalisation of drug use, mass incarceration and forced crop eradication campaigns.
This WOLA/AIN report recognises Bolivia's efforts in reducing coca, working with farmers and providing alternative livelihoods, but concludes that the country’s outdated drug law remains unjust and continues to rely on disproportionate punishment for low-level, non-violent drug offences.