The global “war on drugs” has been fought for 50 years, without preventing the long-term trend of increasing drug supply and use. Beyond this failure, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has identified many serious negative “unintended consequences”(1) of the drug war – including the stigma and discrimination faced by a range of populations.

These costs are distinct from those relating to drug use, stemming as they do from the choice of a punitive enforcement-led approach that, by its nature, criminalises many users – often the most vulnerable in society. This briefing summarises these stigma and discrimination costs.

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