John Walsh has coordinated WOLA’s Drug Policy program since 2003, in support of more humane and effective drug policies in the Americas. Respected for his combination of careful policy analysis and effective advocacy, Mr. Walsh has helped establish WOLA as a key voice in the growing movement to make human rights and harm reduction central concerns of drug policy.
Mr. Walsh has testified before Congress and published extensively on the need to reassess the goals and strategies of U.S. drug policy. His analyses, including the publication “Development First,” have underscored the limits of supply-oriented drug policies and the extensive damage they cause. His work has contributed to the recent opening of the global debate over how to reform drug policy. Taking advantage of this opening, WOLA and the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute (TNI) have teamed to launch a Drug Law Reform Project to help inform policy shifts underway in Latin America.
Mr. Walsh also follows broader political developments in the Andean region, including democracy and human rights issues, and tracks U.S. relations with governments in the Andes, especially Venezuela and Bolivia. Mindful of the polarized politics in these countries and the similarly polarized and sensationalized accounts that have marked U.S. views of developments in the Andes, Mr. Walsh has provided a balanced perspective, and WOLA has provided a venue for impassioned but respectful debate.
In addition to his congressional testimony and publications, Mr. Walsh has organized and spoken at numerous U.S. and international conferences on drug policy and on the Andean region. Prior to joining WOLA he served as director of research at Drug Strategies. He worked at the Center of Concern on the “Rethinking Bretton Woods Project,” an effort to forge consensus on ideas for reform of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and international trade arrangements.
- M.A. Johns Hopkins University, Public Policy
- B.A. Georgetown University, Theology
- "Q&A: Legal Marijuana in Colorado and Washington" (with Mark Kleiman and BOTEC Analysis, 2013)
- “Development First: A More Humane and Promising Approach to Reducing Cultivation of Crops for Illicit Market” (with Coletta Youngers, 2010)
- “Assessing U.S. Drug Policy in the Americas: Time to Revisit Goals and Strategies” (testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, 2009)
- “Change for the Better: The Chance to Recast U.S.-Bolivian Relations” (with Kathryn Ledebur, 2009)
- “Lowering Expectations: Supply Control and the Resilient Cocaine Market” (2009)
- “Obama’s Bolivia ATPDEA Decision: Blast from the Past or Wave of the Future?” (with Kathryn Ledebur, 2009)
- “U.S. Drug Policy: At What Cost? Moving beyond the Self-Defeating Supply-Control Fixation” (testimony before the U.S. Senate, 2008)
- “Chemical Reactions – Fumigation: Spreading Coca and Threatening Colombia’s Ecological and Cultural Diversity” (with Gimena Sanchez and Yamile Salinas, 2008)
- “Democracy in Venezuela” (testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, 2005)
- “Are We There Yet? Measuring Progress in the U.S. War on Drugs in Latin America” (2004)
- CBS News - November 17, 2012 - Some Latin American countries rethink drug policy
- El Tiempo - November 9, 2012 - Desafío a la política de drogas
- Agence France Presse - April 15, 2012 - Despite clamor, strong interests hinder US drug law reform
- The Wall Street Journal - April 12, 2012 - Latin American Leaders to Question U.S. Drug Policy at Summit
- El Tiempo (Colombia) - April 9, 2012 - Op-Ed: ¿Por qué es importante hablar de despenalizar la droga en la Cumbre?
- El Espectador - March 11, 2012 - A debatir la ley de la coca
- El Tiempo (Colombia) - March 10, 2012 - Así se ve y analiza la legalización de la droga en Washington
- McClatchy Newspapers - March 5, 2012 - In Mexico, Biden shoots down talk of Drug Legalization
- Associated Press - February 27, 2012 - U.S. vice president heads to Latin America amid calls for debate on drug legalization
- El Tiempo - November 29, 2011 - 'Santos oxigenó el debate, aunque no le guste a EE.UU.'
- La Nación (Argentina) - October 31, 2010 - Un polémico voto con impacto en la región
- Reuters - February 25, 2010 - In drug war, failed old ideas never die
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