The National Drug Master Plan, 2018-2022 has not been released yet. The draft plan was completed in 2017, it was sent to all the relevant departments for comment, and was due for ratification late 2017. Yet the document that informs South African Drug policy, and therefore has a significant impact on the lives of millions of South Africans, is nowhere to be seen.
This delay was predicted by Shaun Shelly and Simon Howell in their piece for the Global Drug Observatory. Shelly and Howell point out "In order to bring about meaningful change there will need to be a significant shift in the current dominant understanding of drugs. Only once the ‘war on drugs’ approach is exposed as a war on marginalised communities and a distraction from critical social issues are we likely to see a shift towards responses to drugs that do not perpetuate the subjugation of communities."
Although the signs of a progressive and rights-affirming plan were on the cards, until released by Parliament as an official document, things will not change significantly. As the authors say: "Unprecedented calls by the CDA Executive Committee for harm reduction to be included in the 2018-2022 plan and consultations with people who use drugs ahead of development may result in a more balanced and effective document and policy landscape. However, history has shown that the current drafts of the 2018-2022 Plan are likely to be compromised and rendered ineffective due to external influence and lack of political will."
As of yet we still don't know for certain what the new plan holds in store, but these delays seem to indicate that once again, the National Drug Master Plan is likely to be unduly influenced and ultimately ignored. Read more on the plan by clicking here.
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