Who are we?
Through grassroots efforts, promotion of science and active involvement with policymakers, The Association for Safer Drug Policies, works to change today's harmful drug policies.
We are a member of The International Drug Policy Consortium and work closely with the Drug Policy Alliance and Transform Drug Policy Foundation.
Punishment helps no one
We want to change the public perspective on drug use, reframing the issue as one of public health and human welfare rather than law enforcement and crime prevention. In this way, people who use drugs can get the help they need without fear of punishment or other sanctions. Criminalizing people who use drugs only serves to stigmatize and marginalize youth and other vulnerable groups, increasing the risk of both drug addiction and criminal behavior.
People in danger of developing drug problems need security, care, and inclusion – not insecurity, judgment, and alienation.
The current focus on law enforcement and sanctions creates obstacles to proven harm reduction measures, such as testing the purity and contents of drugs, distribution of clean injecting equipment, and pragmatic risk education on drugs. The Association for Safer Drug Policies works to raise awareness of how less punitive approaches have yielded impressive results in countries like Portugal and the Czech Republic, and aims to inspire bold new ways of thinking about drug policy for the 21st Century.
Medical treatment is safer than the street pharmacy
The most severely dependent need the option of legal, medical access to prescribed drugs rather than having to acquire drugs illegally on the street. By offering heroin-assisted treatment for opioid depence in addition to currently available methadone and buprenorphine, and developing effective substitution treatments for alcohol, benzodiazepine and amphetamine, we can ensure that the most severely dependent can achieve improved health and quality of life while abstaining from criminal activity. Experience from many countries shows that substitution treatment shrinks the illicit market, as both buyers and user-dealers move into the treatment program, while also saving money and resources across the criminal justice system. Evidence shows that low threshold access to such services increases our ability to reach the most vulnerable users and makes it much more likely that they will take utilize other health and treatment services.
Control, not liberalisation
Currently, most drugs are sold illicitly. Profits from the criminal drugs trade go to financing other, more harmful crime such as terrorism and human trafficking. Even though many illegal drugs are inherently less harmful than legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, the illegality of their production, supply and use makes them far riskier. Not only because of unknown purity and content, but also because criminality encourages unsafe behaviors in unsafe environments and restricts access to harm reduction information.
The solution is not to allow the commercial sale of all drugs, but for critical stakeholders, including policymakers, to engange in an adult discussion exploring what a responsibly regulated market for certain currently illicit drugs might look like, and whether it could more effectively deliver on our shared drug policy goals. Different drugs would require different approaches according to their relative risk and demand, and we must put our experience with alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical drug regulation to use.
Dealing with the reality of drug markets through regulation rather than prohibition means that responsible government authorities can reclaim control from organised crime. Issues concerning which products shall be distributed, where, when, how, by whom and to whom, can all be decided be the government rather than cartels and gangsters. While some substances could be sold in stores with an age limit, in the same way tobacco and beer are sold today, other substances could be sold in special state-controlled outlets or pharmacies with limits on the amount and frequency of purchase, in the same way some prescription drugs are regulated today. Some drugs could also be sold for use on special premises, as is the case today with pubs for alcohol or Dutch «coffee shops» for cannabis, whereas others again might only be made available for substitution treatment for the already dependent, in the same way that heroin is regulated in several countries today.
What can you do?
Become a member to show your support and help us promote and inform dialogues on drug policy reform with key stakeholders in a wide range of public, political and media forums.
Sign up to become a member and receive information about how you can get further involved.