Lisa Sanchez, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

The Heads of State of 34 countries of the Hemisphere recognised the multidimensional nature and the challenges of the phenomenon of drugs and they started a "valuable discussion on the world drug problem” at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. Aware of the existence of an increasingly intense discussion about it -in which different voices expressed the need to reform current policies and explore other alternatives- they also agreed on the need of analising the results of the current drug policies in the Americas and to explore new approaches to strengthen this fight and to be more effective. " To this end, they gave a mandate to the OAS.

The Report on the drug problem in the Americas is the result of this mandate. Composed by two reports, both different and complementary, the reports conducted a comprehensive technical study of consumption, production, transit, trade and size of the business of drugs in the hemisphere. They also examine the public policies adopted to address the problems of public health, illegality and the violence that they create, as well as their social and political impact in our societies. The conclusions of this study was called Analytical Report. Complementing, a scenarios report was developed, showing what the reality could be. The scenarios were presented as a set of narratives with a time horizon of 2013-2025, expressing four possible different policy developments. This scenarios are not “mutually exclusive” and they emphasise on different areas such as security, reform of the international drug control system or the reconstruction of the social fabric and international conflict.

The analytical report is a synthesis of the six studies conducted in health, development, security, production, drug regulation alternatives and money laundering.

The report concludes is an urgent necessity to face drug consumption from a public health approach, by assuming that dependence is an illness and the drug user a victim, not an offender or an accomplice. Additionally, the report mentions the relevance of tackle the drug problem by promoting healthy lifestyles, treatment, decriminalisation of consumption and by refusing to implement measures restricting freedom.  The drug problem must be approached in different and flexible ways: as the drug problem has diverse expressions and impacts, to tackle it requires a multiple approach, with flexibility and understanding of different realities, but, at the same time, maintaining the conviction of unity in the diversity.

"Greater flexibility could lead to accept the possibility of reform in national legislation or to fuel changes in the international law: a) on the ground of national legislation we have to evaluate the existing signs and trends, which are tending to decriminalise and legalise the production, trade and consumption of marijuana" because the report does not find any other significant support for the decriminalisation or legalisation of other drugs trafficking illegal, b) at the level of the United Nations conventions, changes will arise from the possibility that the current narcotic and psychotropic substances control system are more flexible and allow the states to explore options for drug policy, by considering the behaviors and traditions of each of them."

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