A regional meeting in Kiev marks the beginning of a discussion on drug policy reforms in EECA countries.

In most countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA), people who use drugs often become targets of repressive drug policies which were originally aimed at combating organized crime that controls the illegal drug market. The current practice in these countries allows arresting and imprisoning people who possess a single dose of a drug. In some countries, the mere presence of a drug in one’s blood can serve as the basis for a criminal case. In these circumstances, the use or possession of drugs results in prison terms that are comparable with those for serious crimes, including murder.

These practices are not only extremely costly and inefficient in combating organized crime, but also lead to a deteriorating situation with HIV, tuberculosis and lethal overdoses, as well as to further social exclusion of people who use drugs. At the same time, the world and some CEECA countries provide examples of efficient and cost-effective drug policies that enable people who use drugs to maintain their health and work and live a full life.

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