Drug policies have traditionally sought to suppress supply and deter use through the application of punitive laws. Today, there is a growing recognition that these drug policies have not only failed to reach their objectives but have resulted in a great deal of collateral damage. Drug policy must be reformed to focus on health, human rights and development objectives, with the aim of making the market less harmful rather than necessarily reducing its size.
As the COVID-19 pandemic, and government responses to it, are exacerbating existing inequalities that pose particular risks and challenges for people who use drugs, States must use this opportunity to put in place effective policies to protect their rights.
IDPC and TNI argue that the WHO’s recommendations will be an opportunity for African States to further decolonise drug control and strengthen the legal basis for emerging medicinal cannabis programmes.
Regulation is likely to lead to better outcomes for health, education and justice, but the bill needs to offer further clarity on issues such as potency and the role of for-benefit companies, according to legal expert.
The criminalisation of sex work and drug use disproportionately affects sex workers in the LGBTQ+ community by increasing the incidence of assaults and fatal overdoses and exposing them to unsafe prison conditions in these times of COVID-19.