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

Interview with Coletta Youngers: Breaking Down the Vienna Consensus on Drugs

Video
In this short video, attendees at a high-level United Nations drug policy meeting identify enduring problems in the organization's ruling conventions and practices.

Women, Drug Policy, and Incarceration in the Americas

Video
This roundtable, organized by the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the OAS, CIM/OAS, IDPC, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) explored the increased participation of women in all spheres of the illicit drugs market, as well as the gender dynamics of their involvement.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Holds First Ever Hearing on Drug Policy

News
On March 25, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held its first ever hearing to analyze the impact of current drug policy on human rights.

Histórica audiencia sobre políticas de drogas en la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH)

Audiencia será llevada a cabo el martes 25 de marzo a las 2 p.m. EST
News
Por primera vez, la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) llevará a cabo una audiencia sobre daños causados por las políticas de drogas.