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

International Law and Drug Policy Reform

Report of an Expert Seminar on International Drug Control Law
Analysis & Commentary
In October 2014, WOLA and partner organizations hosted an Expert Seminar on drug law reform and the UN drug control conventions. This Rapporteur's Report summarizes the discussions.

Portraits from Prison Tell Stories of Women in the Drug War

Portraits from Prison Tell Stories of Women in the Drug War
Analysis & Commentary
Across the Americas, repressive drug policies make easy targets of small-scale dealers and people who use drugs, while doing little to thwart large-scale traffickers or organized crime.

Pope’s Visit to Bolivia Underscores Need for Drug Law Reform

Analysis & Commentary
In a long-anticipated trip, Pope Francis arrives in Bolivia today. His trip underscores the need for drug law reform.

What does it mean to have a human rights-oriented drug policy?

Analysis & Commentary
The war on drugs has failed; what are the alternative policies that can take its place?