Synthetic realities: Global drug policies beyond the 'new threat' narrative


Synthetic realities: Global drug policies beyond the 'new threat' narrative

13 November 2023

When? Thursday, 30 November 2023 / 15:00 - 16:30 (GMT - London)

Where? Online

This recording is available in English and Spanish.

In July 2023, the USA launched the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drugs Threats with the objective of mobilising the international community to “come together to collectively combat this shared challenge”. By October 2023, some 120 governments had signed up to be part of the Coalition.

In parallel, the USA will table a resolution at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly that calls on UN Member States to prioritise global action to address the public health and security challenges posed by synthetic drugs.

Nonetheless, the question remains as to whether the Global Coalition will seek to promote innovative approaches to synthetic drugs, that are grounded in health and human rights, or whether it will be yet another vehicle to continue promoting interdiction and eradication.

This online event aims to inform and feed into this discussion, with inputs from health and human rights experts. Speakers will discuss a breadth of issues which include:

  • How prohibition itself has fuelled the increase in the diversity and use of synthetic substances (the so-called balloon effect) and the flaws this exposes in international drug control.
  • The medical significance of synthetic drugs like tramadol and ketamine in many parts of the world and how international scheduling would drastically reduce their availability.
  • The importance of harm reduction as the foremost pillar in the response to all drug use, including synthetic drugs, especially as it relates to preventing and responding to overdoses - as well as measures aimed at ending sanctions and reducing stigma against people who use drugs.
  • A discussion of the potential offered by the Global Coalition and its resolution to directly and progressively address these issues.


  • Keynote: Professor Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Global Commission on Drug Policy
  • Daan van der Gouwe, Drug Markets Researcher, Trimbos Instituut, Netherlands
  • Theshia Naidoo, Managing Director of U.S. Foreign Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, USA
  • Andrzej Celinski, Contract Manager & Executive Administrator, Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs
  • Lisa Sánchez, Executive Director, Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia
  • Smriti Rana, Head of Strategic Programs and Partnerships, Pallium India

Moderated by Ann Fordham, International Drug Policy Consortium.

Date30 November 2023


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