Despite hopes that the 2006 Brazilian Drug Law would lead to a more rational drug enforcement strategy, it has led to a dramatic increase in incarceration for drug-related offenses. Now, state governments are increasing efforts to fight drug use and drug trafficking in a way that is once again blurring the lines between a public health focus and a law enforcement focus on the issue.
The most visible example of the “public health” approach to fighting drug use in Brazil is the federal campaign against crack called “Crack: É Possível Vencer” (Crack, It Can Be Overcome). By 2014, the federal government will have spent around US$2 billion on the campaign, which is managed by the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Ministries of Justice, Education, and Social Development. The implementation of the program at the state level has run into several problems and received harsh criticism for treating drug use as a security threat, heavily using law enforcement to confront drug use as well as drug trafficking.
Of particular concern, in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the state governments have approved forced treatment for users of crack. In both states, police go into areas of the cities with high levels of crack use, known as Crackolandias, and take people off the streets.
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