The last of the series of Correlation Conferences, entitled ‘Getting out of the margins – Changing realities and making the difference’, took place from 12th to 14th December 2011 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This report is an account of the discussions that took place during the final session of the Conference, ‘Drug policy reform – From evidence to practice’. Thanks are due to Thanasis Apostolou, from Diogenis, Drug Policy Dialogue in South East Europe, for chairing the session.

Much discussion is currently taking place about the ineffectiveness of drug law enforcement practices and of the role of the criminal justice system and prisons in controlling the illicit drug market.

Improvements can be observed in terms of general attitudes towards people who use drugs. For instance, human rights now constitute an important aspect of the drug policy agenda and governments have started considering drug dependence differently, shifting from a criminal approach to a health-oriented one.

Within this framework of discussion, national governments and international bodies, NGOs and other stakeholders are requested to provide effective answers to the emergence of new drugs, changes in consumption patterns and existing behaviours.

It seems clear that drug policies based on law enforcement and punishment are outdated and that new responses need to be found to tackle drugs issues. The panellists of this session informed the audience about current drug policy developments worldwide, both at the national, European and international level. The objective of this panel discussion was to comment upon new drug policy trends, and to propose concrete steps to improve drug policy.

The panel was composed of the following drug policy experts:

  • Martin Jelsma, Coordinator of the Drugs and Democracy Programme of the Transnational Institute (TNI)
  • Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
  • Jindrich Voboril, National Drug Coordinator in the Czech Republic
  • Frederik Polak, Member of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD)
  • Eliot Albers, Acting Director of the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD)
  • Nikolaos Takis, Psychiatrist at the detoxification unit of the Psychiatric Hospital in Athens, Greece (replaced Meni Malliori, the Greek Drug Coordinator, who was excused)

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