In 2018, the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD) published a ground-breaking ‘Model Drug Law for West Africa: A tool for policymakers' to assist policy makers in (re)formulating national drug laws in line with the UN drug control conventions and human rights obligations. The Model Drug Law was a follow-up to the Commission’s 2014 publication ‘Not Just in Transit: Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa’. By design, the Model Drug Law is a technical document – but it can be one of many highly useful tools for civil society to help advance drug policy reform and harm reduction programmes based on public health and human rights, including and especially for people who use drugs. This ‘explainer’ is one of two advocacy documents related to the West Africa Model Drug Law – the other explaining and breaking down the main contents of the Model Drug Law itself.
This short document serves as a practical guide for civil society on possible ways to use the Model Drug Law in advancing drug policy reform in West Africa and beyond. Despite its focus on the drug law and its legislative provisions, the Model Drug Law can be used by a wide variety of civil society organisations (including networks of people who use drugs) working on drug policy, harm reduction and related issues.