By Pien Metaal - The Guardian

Reform of international drug control is urgently needed. The war on drugs has left a trail of suffering and criminality in its wake and has manifestly failed to achieve its objectives. The UN special session of the general assembly (Ungass) this week presents an opportunity. Many reformers put drug users at the centre of changes to international drug policies, but the people growing the plants producing the substances they consume are often overlooked.

Farmers’ livelihoods and their communities’ sustainable development are inherently linked to reform of international drug policies. For hundreds of thousands of farmers’ families, existing crop control laws and practices cause conflict and poverty (pdf), and crush hopes for economic improvement.

In January, representatives of cannabis, opium poppy and coca cultivating communities, from 14 countries, gathered in the Netherlands to discuss global drug control policies and the urgent need for reform (pdf). They soon discovered they had more than livelihoods in common.

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