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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Relative harm assessment of various drugs from the scientific journal The Lancet[1]

Drug policy reform is a term used to describe proposed changes to the way most governments respond to the socio-cultural influence on perception of psychoactive substance use. Proponents of drug policy reform believe that prohibition of currently illegal drugs—such as cannabis, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines and hallucinogens—has been ineffectual and counterproductive. They argue that rather than using laws and enforcement as the primary means to responding to substance use, governments and citizens would be better served by reducing harm and regulating the production, marketing and distribution of currently illegal drugs in a manner similar to (or some would say better than) how alcohol and tobacco are regulated.

Proponents of drug law reform argue that relative harm should be taken into account in the scheduling of controlled substances. Addictive drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine have been a traditional part of Western culture for centuries and are legal, when in fact the first two are more harmful than some substances scheduled under Schedule I.[2][3][4] The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a branch of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, rated the hallucinogen psilocybin (Schedule I) less toxic than Aspirin.[3] The Dutch government found this also to be true.[4] The addictive properties of the drug nicotine in tobacco are often compared with heroin or cocaine,[5] but tobacco is legal, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 2002 World Health Report estimates that in developed countries, 26% of male deaths and 9% of female deaths can be attributed to tobacco smoking.[2] According to the American Heart Association, "Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break." The pharmacologic and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine.[5]


Groups advocating change

The Senlis Council, a European development and policy thinktank, has, since it conception in 2002, advocated that drug addiction should be viewed as a public health issue rather than a purely criminal matter. The group does not support the decriminalisation of illegal drugs. Since 2003, the Council has called for the licensing of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan in order to manufacture poppy-based medicines, such as morphine and codeine, and to combat poverty in rural communities, breaking ties with the illicit drugs trade. In a technical blueprint, "Poppy for Medicine" (June 2007) Poppy for Medicine Licensing Poppy for the production of essential medicines: an integrated counter-narcotics, development and counter insurgency model for Afghanistan , the Senlis Council outlined proposals for the implementation of a village based poppy for medicine project and calls for a pilot project for Afghan morphine at the next planting season.

Groups advocating defense of UN Drug conventions

There are also non governmental anti-drug organizations advocation for drug policy reforms that do not include legalization of drugs and so called harm reduction polices. An example on a global level is that a number of such organizations in 2009 started The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) a multilateral community of non-governmental organizations and individuals. The aim of WFAD is to work for a drug-free world. Many of these organization work for drug policy reforms in their own countries that for example calls upon governments to provide adequate resources for treatment and prevention. Their common declaration state that they support Article 33 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child that states:

"States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances". (September 1990)[6][7][8]

Organisations involved in lobbying, research and advocacy



United States

Political parties with drug law reform policies

Organisations providing legal help

See also


  1. ^ Nutt D, King LA, Saulsbury W, Blakemore C (March 2007). "Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse". Lancet 369 (9566): 1047–53. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60464-4. PMID 17382831.  edit
  2. ^ a b World health report 2002: reducing risks, promoting healthy life
  3. ^ a b The Good Drugs Guide. "Magic Mushrooms – Frequently Asked Questions". Frequently Asked Questions. The Good Drugs Guide. Retrieved 2007-01-04. 
  4. ^ a b Report by the Dutch Government Stating Psilocybin's Relative Harmlessness
  5. ^ a b American Heart Association and Nicotine addiction.
  6. ^ WFAD Declaration 2009
  7. ^ US Office of National Drug Control Policy: National Drug Control Strategy 2009 Annual Report, page 33, 1/21/2009
  8. ^ The International Task Force on Strategic Policy; ITFSDP Members Present and Participate in the World Forum Against Drugs in Sweden
  9. ^ American Civil Liberties Union Drug Law Reform] Accessed 2010-02-15
  10. ^ LEAP
  11. ^ NORML
  12. ^ Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. [Drug Law Reform Policy - Towards a Harm Reduction Model] Accessed 2010-02-15

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