Drug Policy

...promoting more effective and humane drug policies

The U.S.-led “war on drugs” has failed to suppress the production, trafficking, or consumption of illegal drugs, while enriching and empowering criminal enterprises. The enforcement of harsh drug laws has led to human rights abuses, overcrowded prisons, and threats to democratic institutions. WOLA advocates for reducing the harms caused by both the drug trade and by drug policies themselves. Throughout the Americas, we work for reforms that protect human rights and promote public health.

Key Program Themes:

Drug Policy Debate and Reform in the Americas

WOLA is actively working to promote a wide-ranging debate in the hemisphere on new drug policy approaches, including the decriminalization of drug consumption, improved proportionality in sentencing, and cannabis regulation.

Legal, Regulated Cannabis

In the Americas and globally, proposals are gaining momentum to remove cannabis markets from the control of criminal groups and to create legal, regulated frameworks for cultivation, processing, sale, and possession. WOLA considers these to be enormously promising and is working to support regulatory approaches that uphold human rights, public health, and public safety.

Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration in the Americas

Women in the Americas are being incarcerated for minor, non-violent, drug-related crimes at an alarming rate. As part of a joint project with partners across the region, IDPC, Dejusticia, and WOLA have convened a working group to illustrate the human costs of incarceration and advance policies that protect these women’s rights and end the unjust criminalization of low-level drug offenders.

Coca and Development in the Andes

Forced eradication of coca is devastating to some of the world’s poorest farmers and their families, many of whom have no viable alternative livelihoods. Despite decades of efforts, eradication has conspicuously failed to result in lasting reductions in the cultivation coca for the illicit market. WOLA advocates for equitable and sustainable rural economic development in coca growing regions. 

Drug Policy News & Analysis

Cannabis and the Conventions: UNGASS and Beyond

In a historic event at the United Nations General Assembly on drugs (UNGASS), WOLA talks about cannabis and the drug conventions, the UN's "elephant in the room."

UN General Assembly on Drugs: The Beginning of a Change in the Drug War Paradigm

At the conclusion of day one of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, WOLA's Coletta Youngers puts the summit in context of the broader drug policy debate and what the outcome may mean for future reforms.

World Leaders Convene in New York for Landmark UN Drug Summit as Opposition to Drug War Mounts

WOLA Experts will be in Attendance, Presenting at the UN
This week, world leaders are gathering at the United Nations in New York for the highest-level meeting on drug policy in nearly two decades.

Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties: Strategies for Reform

How might governments and the UN system address growing tensions surrounding the existing UN drug treaties and evolving law and practice in Member States in ways that acknowledge the policy shifts underway and help to modernize the drug treaty regime itself?