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. Read 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. Learn about 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. Read about 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. Learn about WOLA’s efforts to promote economic development in coca growing regions and alternative approaches to coca policy.

Drug Policy News & Analysis

"Building on Progress" in Bolivia

Kathryn Ledebur on Bolivia's Unheralded Drug Policy Success
Publication
Bolivia's government has rejected the U.S. model of illegal drug control—and cultivation of coca has dropped by 34%. Adam talks with Kathryn Ledebur of the Andean Information Network, co-author of a new report with WOLA.

The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Women in the Americas: Opportunities for Sentencing Reform

Video
As part of a Congressional briefing sponsored by WOL and the Open Society Policy Center, advocates for reform highlight the injustice and inefficacy of current drug law and sentencing reform.

The Impact of Drug Policy on Human Rights

The Experience in the Americas
Publication
This joint report analyzes the effects of drug policy in the Americas, including the militarization of law enforcement, the criminalization of consumption, the weakening of due process guarantees, mass incarceration, disproportionate penalties, and restrictions on access to health care.

Workshop on Mass Incarceration of Women Across the Americas

Finding New Approaches to Grassroots and Global Advocacy
Analysis & Commentary
On July 16, 2015, WOLA and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) convened a Workshop on the Mass Incarceration of Women Across the Americas, bringing together experts and advocates from Latin America and the United States.