A reverend from Kenya, a doctor from Senegal, a psychiatrist from Tanzania, and a pharmacist from Malawi sip a cup of coca tea and munch on coca leaf cookies. This was the scene at the recent South–South Drug Policy Exchange in Bogota, a gathering of African and Latin American officials and civil society representatives to discuss the pressing issue of drug policy reform.
At the center of the war on drugs, Latin America is leading a growing international movement toward alternative drug policies based on promoting health, human rights, and proportional punishment. With a wealth of experience and innovation in the realm of drug policy reform, the region is well positioned to advise other Global South nations struggling with similar issues.
The South–South Drug Policy Exchange, part of a series of Africa–Latin America discussions organized by the Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia), aimed to blaze a new path forward for the movement. Participants surveyed the results of alternative drug policies and visited a small shop that legally sells coca-based products through an economic project created by a local indigenous community.
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Thumbnail: CC Flickr Pierre Pouliquin