What can we learn from the failures of repressive drug laws? How can we convince the people that they are failed? What are the alternatives of punitive drug policies? A group of NGOs launched a campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act in the UK – and the 100th anniversary of the drug law in Belgium. We discuss lessons learnt with Ester Kincova from Transform and Stéphane Leclercq from Fedito Brussels.
European Drug Policy
The European Drug Policy Initiative (EDPI) is a project of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) in cooperation with professionals and NGOs from six European countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Serbia. We selected these target countries in order to reflect the diversity of national drug policies and geopolitical characteristics found in the European Union and its candidates. Bulgaria and Poland represent new member states with restrictive drug policies, while older member states like Portugal are considered to have a more liberal approach. National drug policies cannot be differentiated using the East/West divide that exists within the EU. For instance, Sweden is famous for its democratic welfare society but has a traditionally restrictive attitude toward mind altering substances. On the other hand, the Czech Republic, having endured decades under a totalitarian regime, now endorses a relatively liberal drug policy.
The aim of the project is to advance drug policy reform in the European Union with providing tools for advocacy in the national and international level:
- public opinion surveys
- videos on national drug policy issues (posted on video sharing sites)
- media work (improving the press coverage of national/international campaigns)
- targeting political parties
- targeting international decision making forums (e.g. UN and EU forums)
We have tremendous amounts of evidence both on the harmful unintended consequences of current drug control policies and on the effectiveness of alternative harm reduction measures. However, the ciritcal voices of professionals and NGOs are not heard by the mainstream society. EDPI aims to implement policy change with oriented campaigns targeting society through the media. It connects scholarship with PR methods, attempts to use modern communication tools to advertise new, innovative answers to drug problems, mobilize drug user communities to come out of the closet. Even though Europe is considered small in a geographical sense compared to the United States, due to cultural and language barriers it is more difficult to raise awareness on the necessity of drug policy reform.
EDPI is supported by the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Commonsense for Drug Policy Foundation.European Drug Policy Initiative News
The Norwegian government presented its plan to decriminalise drug use last week – read this report from Arild Knutsen, a leading drug user activist.
This is the first episode of Drugreporter News, our monthly news update from the world of drug policy, with Orsolya Fehér.
Recent large drug seizures and arrests don’t show that so-called drug supply reduction works. The system is broken but we don’t dare to ask the right questions.
In Italy, the documentary film on the San Patrignano community has started a wide debate on drugs. Please read the passionate article of Susanna Ronconi (Forum Droghe) on the culture of silence and lies that contributed to the torture and abuse of people who use drugs!
Sanpa, a new miniseries now featured on Netflix, tells the story about how a man’s dream of saving people from addiction turned into a nightmare.
Youth Organisations for Drug Action (YODA) is a European network that brings together organisations at the forefront of harm reduction and drug policy reform.
The new opinion paper adopted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) calls for less law enforcement and more health and human rights in the new EU Drugs Strategy.
The thematic working group on civil society involvement of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs, an expert group of the EU Commission, conducted this review of literature on meaningful civil society involvement in the field of drug policy.
An update about how access to harm reduction programs changed in European cities after the lockdown measures were lifted between the first and second waves of the COVID-19 epidemic.