From tax and debt, to trade and climate change. If we are serious about addressing poverty and poor health the we cannot shy away from addressing complex and controversial issues. Drug policy cannot be ignored if we are serious about dealing with the root causes of poverty, not just the symptoms.
What’s the alternative?
We need to offer political support to countries who want to move away from prohibition towards alternative approaches, to ensure they do not face pressure from more powerful countries. We need to ensure that aid money is spent supporting harm reduction, and funding research for countries who want to reform, not enforcing this failed war.
There are already good examples in the global south to signpost a way forward. Bolivia’s coca control programme has prioritised reducing the harm caused my militarised crop eradication, rather than simply stopping drug trafficking and production.
All new approaches need to include local communities in design and implementation making sure they are able to participate. They need to ensure public infrastructure and public services and be integrated with national development plans and programmes.
We will need new indicators to measure how drug policies affect poor and marginalised communities and their development, providing strong evidence and expertise for the most effective policies with sustainable development at their core. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out a plan of action that will shape the mainstream development agenda until 2030. In order to achieve these drug policy cannot be ignored.