Drug policies in most countries in the region focus on strong law enforcement, with little space given to health protection and social inclusion. Nevertheless, some countries have recently responded to the increased demand for treatment and rehabilitation with some level of healthcare and harm reduction services.
Scepticism has grown in Iran over the effectiveness of the death penalty in deterring drug smuggling, with government reports showing it has had no impact on reducing the volume and variety of drugs in Iran.
Several countries, Egypt included, wish to tighten international control around tramadol, a synthetic opioid widely used for severe pain management. The INCB have declined to re-examine tramadol's status, but we must be vigilant in defending access to essential medicines.
Tom Blickman of TNI explores the rapid expansion in Morrocan illicit cannabis cultivation, associated with considerable corruption and repression, which could lead to a productive debate on regulation.
Iran has managed to build its own harm reduction system, sustainable in its own way. It is not like any other western system and not quite like the systems described in manuals and recommended by WHO and UNAIDS.