Drug Policy

...promoting more effective and humane drug policies

The U.S.-led “war on drugs” has failed to suppress the production, trafficking, or consumption of illegal drugs, while enriching and empowering criminal enterprises. The enforcement of harsh drug laws has led to human rights abuses, overcrowded prisons, and threats to democratic institutions. WOLA advocates for reducing the harms caused by both the drug trade and by drug policies themselves. Throughout the Americas, we work for reforms that protect human rights and promote public health.

Key Program Themes:

Drug Policy Debate and Reform in the Americas

WOLA is actively working to promote a wide-ranging debate in the hemisphere on new drug policy approaches, including the decriminalization of drug consumption, improved proportionality in sentencing, and cannabis regulation.

Legal, Regulated Cannabis

In the Americas and globally, proposals are gaining momentum to remove cannabis markets from the control of criminal groups and to create legal, regulated frameworks for cultivation, processing, sale, and possession. WOLA considers these to be enormously promising and is working to support regulatory approaches that uphold human rights, public health, and public safety.

Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration in the Americas

Women in the Americas are being incarcerated for minor, non-violent, drug-related crimes at an alarming rate. As part of a joint project with partners across the region, IDPC, Dejusticia, and WOLA have convened a working group to illustrate the human costs of incarceration and advance policies that protect these women’s rights and end the unjust criminalization of low-level drug offenders.

Coca and Development in the Andes

Forced eradication of coca is devastating to some of the world’s poorest farmers and their families, many of whom have no viable alternative livelihoods. Despite decades of efforts, eradication has conspicuously failed to result in lasting reductions in the cultivation coca for the illicit market. WOLA advocates for equitable and sustainable rural economic development in coca growing regions. 

Drug Policy News & Analysis

Women Behind Bars: Photo Essays Show The Human Cost of Current Drug Policy in the Americas

Analysis & Commentary
Across Latin America, the effects of disproportionate punishment for low-level, non-violent drug offenses are particularly severe for women. The following women were convicted and imprisoned for drug offenses in Colombia and Costa Rica. These are their stories.

Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration in the Americas

A Joint Project to Promote More Humane and Effective Policies
Analysis & Commentary
In collaboration with gender and human rights organizations from throughout the world, IDPC, Dejusticia and WOLA have convened a group of leading experts to address the harmful effects of incarceration on women in the Americas.

The Societal Cost of Locking Up Women for Low-Level Drug Offenses

A working group of human rights experts, legal specialists, and government officials throughout Latin America has published a policy roadmap for the region to reduce the unjust levels of women’s incarceration for drug offenses.

Producers of Prohibited Plants Convene in Holland

Around 60 producers of coca, poppy and cannabis from 15 different countries and their representatives are expected to convene in The Netherlands this week to raise awareness of the poverty and conflict caused by the global war on drugs.