Esta publicación de la organización Transformda una visión general de la prohibición, la guerra contra las drogas y las políticas internacionales sobre estas sustancias, para brindar una sólida base a los neófitos en este tema. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

Suscríbase a las Alertas mensuales del IDPC para recibir información sobre cuestiones relacionadas con políticas sobre drogas.

Any activity or product can in theory be prohibited by law, and drugs are no different. The current prohibition on drugs was established in international law by the 1961, 1971, and 1988 United Nations drug treaties, and has since been incorporated into the domestic laws of over 150 countries. It mandates criminal sanctions for the production, supply and possession/use of a range of psychoactive substances, although the penalties vary widely between countries.

The stated aim of drug prohibition is to reduce the production, supply and use of certain drugs to ultimately create a 'drug-free society'. As the 1998 United Nations Drug Control Programme once put it: A Drug Free World: We Can Do It! It hardly needs saying that such a world has not been achieved: globally, drug use has steadily increased over the last 50 years. But what is more, drug prohibition has had an impact far worse than anyone could have imagined. The unregulated, criminally controlled drugs trade has expanded to become one of the largest commodity markets on Earth, bringing with it disastrous costs. The widespread criminalisation and punishment of people who use drugs also means that the war on drugs is, to a significant degree, a war on drug users – a war on people.

Drug prohibition has its origins in the US temperance movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement ultimately led to the prohibition of alcohol, which lasted from 1920 to 1932. This experiment failed in dramatic style, and is widely considered to have been repealed because it was expensive, counterproductive, threatened public health and generated high levels of crime. As a result, using the term 'prohibition' to describe current drug policy can, as well as being technically accurate, be a useful way to highlight how and why the harms it is causing are similar to those caused by the US's catastrophic experiment with alcohol prohibition.

Transform's publication, 'Ending the war on drugs: How to win the global drug policy debate' provides an overview of prohibition, the war on drugs and international drug policies to equip those who are new to the topic with a firm foundation on the subject.

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.