Around the world, more governments are beginning to openly question the effectiveness of enforcing repressive drug control policies. Overwhelmingly in Asia, however, the use and supply of controlled drugs are still seen as a social evil that must be eradicated; justifying the implementation of severe, disproportionate punishment ranging from compulsory detention for people who use drugs to the death penalty for trafficking.

As rapidly expanding drug markets emphasise the failure of current drug policy approaches, along with their negative consequences for people who use drugs (e.g. high rates of HIV and Hepatitis C amongst people who inject drugs) and broader society (e.g. growing rates of arrest and imprisonment for low-level drug offences), and the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem scheduled for April 2016 approaches, what are the prospects for drug policy reform in Asia?

Gloria Lai is a senior policy officer for the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). Based in Thailand, she leads IDPC's Asia regional programme. She previously worked as a senior policy advisor on law enforcement and drugs, and as a lawyer for the Australian government.   

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