Drug Policy

...promoting more effective and humane drug policies

The U.S.-led war on drugs has failed to suppress illicit drug production or trafficking, while harsh drug laws have led to human rights abuses, overcrowded prisons and threats to democratic institutions. WOLA advocates reducing the harms caused by both the drug trade and by the misguided war on drugs. Across the hemisphere, we work for drug reforms that protect human rights and public health.

Key Program Themes:

• The Emerging Drug Policy Debate in Latin America

Latin America is at the vanguard of international drug policy reform and some countries are implementing bold alternatives. Click here to see WOLA’s analysis of reforms and trends. 

• Drug Law Reform

Drug law reforms are focusing on decriminalizing the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal consumption, ensuring proportionality in sentencing, and reducing black markets and violence. Click here to see WOLA’s work on these issues. 

• Legal and Regulated Marijuana Markets

In the Americas and globally, proposals to legalize and regulate marijuana markets—including cultivation, processing, sales and possession—are gaining momentum. Click here to see WOLA’s work regarding these initiatives.

• Coca and Development in the Andes

Forced eradication of coca plantings is devastating to some of the world’s poorest farmers and their families, many of whom have no viable alternative livelihoods. Although forced eradication cause tremendous hardship for thousands of farmers who are already in precarious circumstances, it has conspicuously failed to result in lasting reductions in the cultivation coca for the illicit market. Click here to see WOLA’s efforts to promote economic development in coca growing regions and alternative approaches to coca policy.

Drug Policy News & Analysis

Reimagining Drug Policy in the Americas

WOLA Experts Contribute to NACLA Summer 2014 Issue
Analysis & Commentary
In this summer issue of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), WOLA experts John Walsh and Coletta Youngers offer analysis on cannabis regulation and the turning point in the reform debate.

Latin America Drug Policy Dialogue 2014 Quito

Analysis & Commentary
In this WOLA-TNI informal drug policy dialogue, civil society and government representatives discussed reform efforts throughout the region.

Peru Sends Mixed Signals on Drug Policy

Analysis & Commentary
What does the firing of Peru's top drug official mean for the Andean country's future policies? WOLA's Coletta Youngers explains in an article in the World Politics Review

Will the U.S. let Colombia End Its Civil War?

After half a century, Colombia may put an end to its conflict—if the U.S. will allow it.
Analysis & Commentary
With a new agreement on drug policy, Colombian government and FARC negotiators appear closer than ever to a peace accord. But will the U.S. allow it?