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.
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
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The second part of our series reveals how young people advocating drug policy reform cope with the new challenges and opportunities brought by the COVID-crisis.
When it comes to drugs, Hungary is the country of extremes. It has one of the most repressive drug laws in the EU – and the most liberal regulation of alcohol at the same time.
In June 2020, all harm reduction services with public funding stopped in Bulgaria for the second time in three (2017-2020) years. The oldest, biggest, and most experienced harm reduction organisation, Initiative for Health Foundation, shut down too. No needle and syringe programs remained open in the country. An article by Yuliya Georgieva.
The new Security Union strategy would “fight” against drugs together with child abuse and arms trafficking. This is a bad approach.
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Drugreporter and INPUD presents the first episode of a 10 chapter long series documenting how people who use drugs around the world have organised and formed collectives and unions to protect and defend the health and human rights of their community. The first episode uncovers he history of the movement in the Netherlands, and how it inspired activists in Belgium and France.
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