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On Tuesday 24th April, Canning House in association with the LSE International Drug Policy Unit had the pleasure of welcoming an expert panel to discuss new approaches to drugs consumption policies, following the debate sparked by the 2016 United Nations General Assembly on Drugs. The question of international drugs consumption policies is particularly salient in Latin America, where traditionally producer countries have seen a rise in consumption in recent years. Furthermore Latin America, and particularly Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala, are at the forefront of the push for alternatives to the 'war on drugs'.
German Espejo, Deputy Head of Mission at the Colombian Embassy in London, gave an introductory presentation, highlighting that Colombia, having greatly suffered from the 'war on drugs', is supportive of furthering dialogue around new drug policies. He also noted that the question of drug policy will be key in the upcoming presidential elections.
Cristina Cortes, Canning House CEO, then introduced the panel: Dr John Collins, director of the LSE's International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU); Winnifred Agnew-Pauley, a researcher at the LSE IDPU; and Dr Pablo Zuleta, visiting professor at CESED Uniandes. Drawing on a number of case studies, the panellists highlighted the importance of developing policies that adopt a comprehensive approach to prevention, rather than focusing solely on abstinence. They looked closely at drugs courts, a model that is advocated by the US and that has been adopted with moderate success in Australia; the outcome of these courts shows the need for approaches to prevention that include questions of human rights and public health, rather than a binary focus on recidivism. The key lesson for Latin America is that international policy transfers must be approached with caution, especially in the case of drug courts, which have presented mixed results at best.
Speakers' presentations are available to view here:
Dr Pablo Zuleta (forthcoming)
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