The war on drugs has had many victims, most of whom are innocent, but what about the subjugation of entire nations? Or a whole continent? In a very eloquent piece from drug policy activist, public health policy analyst, founding member of Anyone's Child: Families for Safer Drugs Control in Kenya, Lugard Abila exposes the "secret" in the war on drugs. The post can be found on Transform's web page by clicking here.
He argues: "drugs have played not just a prominent role in the cultural, spiritual, and social development of African civilizations - there is a rich history demonstrating how the use of drugs illuminates the history of humanity and there is a long relationship between mankind and mind-altering substances on other continents too." Indeed this is true. This alone should indicate the futility of the war on drugs.
Abila continues to discuss the control conventions and their adoption in Africa. His argument is crucial. As Abila says: "The international drug control system was shaped at a time when African states focused on models of development which were propagated by European imperialism, scientific racism, concepts of moral responsibility and the legacy of colonial legislation. So while in the early 1950s African states were focused on developing their economies and societies, by the 1960s legal arrangements for drugs were inherited from the colonial powers by the newly independent states. Although drugs were originally not an issue, they have since been identified as a ‘development impediment’ for which prohibition is the only answer."
This is what I mean when I say we are perpetuating the colonial and imperial through the myth of the international. The article challenges us to critically examine these policies: "African states must define their will and initiate effective dialogue that challenges the prohibitionist stand and we must enact policies based on a harm–reduction and rights based approach in accordance to the Africa Charter article 20 (3) “All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the State Parties to the present Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.”
I encourage you to read the full article.
Harm Reduction International have released their Global State of Harm Reduction 2016 report. From their release: "This is the fifth report in the Global State series, which provides the most up-to-date picture of harm reduction policy and practice around the world.
The new data in this report shows a worrying slowdown in the provision of harm reduction services for people who use drugs, with no new countries introducing needle and syringe programmes since 2014.
Along with this, there has been a rise in injecting stimulant use across all regions of the world, and a dramatic increase in overdose deaths.
Harm reduction in prisons also remains vastly insufficient, with only a very small number of countries providing needle exchange or overdose training in at least one prison.
We would like to recognise the invaluable contribution of harm reduction advocates, networks and researchers, organisations of people who use drugs, activists, donors and multilateral agencies this year and throughout the life of this unique project. It is thanks to this collective effort that the Global State has become a key resource for so many in their work."
Despite the reported lack of growth, harm reduction is no longer considered as something "other countries" do, but is now an accepted and essential approach to counter the negative effects of punitive policies that increase the risks of using drugs. This is in no small way due to the work of Harm Reduction International who convene The Harm Reduction International Conferences - a biennial hub for our sector, that attracts over 1,000 international delegates.
The 2017 conference will be held in Montreal, Canada: https://www.hri.global/conference-2017
We will be adding the latest drug policy news here, as well as providing updates for the drug policy week.
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