John Walsh

Senior Associate for Drug Policy and the Andes
Areas of Expertise: 
Domestic and International Drug Policy, Drug Law Reform, Andean Region, Bolivia, Venezuela, Democracy and Elections

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.

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  • M.A. Johns Hopkins University, Public Policy
  • B.A. Georgetown University, Theology
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