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

WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Video
WOLA is a leading research and advocacy organizations working to advance human rights in the Americas. To learn more about WOLA's work, please watch this short video.

International Impacts of the U.S. Trend towards Legal Marijuana

Video
In this taped event, leading drug policy reform advocates, experts, and former officials share their analyses of the current trend toward legal, regulated marijuana markets and the tensions these initiatives have with existing international legal commitments.

Marijuana Legalization is an Opportunity to Modernize International Drug Treaties

Publication
In a new report from WOLA and the Brookings Institution, John Walsh and Wells Bennett analyze the new legal, regulated marijuana markets in the context of existing international drug treaties.

WOLA's Walsh Presents at the OAS on the Issue of Drugs in the Americas

Video
In this taped event, WOLA Senior Associate John Walsh joins drug policy reform advocates and practitioners in a discussion at the OAS on drug policy in the hemisphere. Walsh acknowledges that there exists a growing realization among both officials and reform advocates that current policies have not been effective.