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

Can Glyphosate Cause Cancer? A Nail in the Coffin of Coca Fumigation

Herbicide Used in Controversial Aerial Spraying Program Likely Causes Cancer
Analysis & Commentary
New findings linking glyphosate and cancer have serious implications for aerial spraying of coca crops in Colombia.

4 Ways to Promote Development and Reduce the Cultivation of Prohibited Plants

WOLA, colleagues present on alternative development at the UN
Analysis & Commentary
WOLA's Coletta Youngers joined civil society colleagues at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna to present alternatives to failed drug policies.

Can Washington Still Dictate Drug Policy in the Americas?

Analysis & Commentary
In an article for NACLA, WOLA's Coletta Youngers and Adam Schaffer analyze how while the drug war has continued in Latin America, the momentum in favor of reform is building in unexpected places.

Latin America Drug Policy Dialogue 2014: Santa Marta

Analysis & Commentary
At the 11th Informal Drug Policy Dialogue, civil society experts and government officials came together to discuss preparations for the UNGASS in 2016.