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GDPPC Day 2: Panel discussion on a “Post-‘War on Drugs’ World”

The second day of the Budapest Forum 2014 opened with a panel discussion on “Post-‘War on Drugs’ World.”

Moderated by GPPi’s Joel Sandhu, the panel discussion began with Angela Me, director of research at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Me spoke about UN Drugs conventions and issues surrounding decriminalisation, emphasising the distinction between the possession of drugs for personal use and for profit-making. “The issue is very complicated,” said Me. “Leave the war aside. The debate now is how to rebalance the drug policy to put the drug use in the center and all of this is written in the UN document”.

Lisa Sanchez, from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and Mexico Unido Conta la Delincuencia, said that drug decriminalisation is only a partial solution. “We should always consider the impact of whatever step we take especially when it comes to drug offences,” said Sanchez. “Many countries still have the death penalty for drug possession, so how is the system efficient if you can arrest people for drug possession and execute them?”

Adeolu Ogunrombi, representative of YouthRISE Nigeria and in West African Countries, said that today’s drugs are more accessible than ever. According to Ogunrombi, policies on drugs in Africa are adopted for the sake of developing a good image in the eyes of powerful countries.   

The discussion went into details and specific research results regarding marijuana consumption for personal and medical use, as well as the use of heavy drugs and the risk they pose for contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Sophia Reinicke from the Washington Heights CORNER Project contended that including young people in these processes of policy making is essential. Carl Hart, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist from Columbia University, questioned the assumptions on drugs and war on drugs made by other panelists.

“What we do with drug policies, especially in the US, is not based on evidence,” said Hart. “People who are affected with these policies are poor people and we are dishonest when we say that these actions are not political. They are so political. By making drugs illegal you make things very difficult when it comes to drug access and it is not a solution to the problem.”

“This is the case with every policy. Poor people pay the price.”

Full video of the panel discussion is available now.

The discussion continued with a question and answer session involving participants in the Budapest Forum 2014.

The Budapest Forum 2014 is the final event of the annual GDPPC programme. GDPPC is jointly organized by the Global Public Policy Institute, the International Debate Education Association, the European Council of Foreign Relations and the Central European University’s School of Public Policy. The project is supported by the Open Society Foundations.

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