Who are we?
Through grassroots efforts, promotion of science and knowledge, as well as active engagement with policymakers, The Association for Safer Drug Policies, works to change 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.
Nobody get well through punishment
We want to move the responsibility for dealing with problematic drugs use to being seen as a health issue. 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 serve to stigmatize and marginalize vulnerable youth increasing the risk of both drug addiction and criminal behavior.
People in danger of developing drug issues need security, care, and inclusion – not unrest, condemnation, and alienation.
The current focus on punitive enforcement 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 bring experience from countries like Portugal and the Czech Republic, where less punitive approaches have yielded much better results to the forefront of the international policy debate.
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 (HAT) in addition to the current availability of methadone and buprenorphine (MAT), (and potentially for certain benzodiazepines and amphetamines), we can make sure that the most severe drug dependent can achieve improved health and life chances without being forced to commit a crime. Experience from many countries shows that substitution treatment can shrink the street 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 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 advantage of 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, sorts of crime – such as terrorism and human trafficking. Even though many illegal drugs are inherently less harmful than legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, illegal 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 immediately start commercial sale of all drugs, but for critical stakeholders - including policymakers - to begin an adult discussion exploring what a responsibly regulated market for certain lower risk drugs might look like, and how it could more effectively deliver on our shared goals. Different drugs would require different approaches according to their risks - and it will be essential to learn the lessons from successes and failings of alcohol and tobacco regulation around the world.
Dealing with the reality of drug markets through regulation rather than prohibition means responsible government authorities can take back control from organised crime. Issues concerning which products are available, where, when, how and by whom they are sold, and who has access to the market - can all come within the mandate of government rather than left in the hands of gangsters. While some substances can be sold in stores with an age limit, in the same way, that snuff tobacco and beer is sold today, other substances can be sold in special state-controlled outlets/pharmacies with limits on the amount and frequency of purchase (in the same way that some prescription drugs are regulated today), or they could be sold for use in a designated place or special premises (as it is with the current licence requirement or Dutch «coffee shops»), while other substances should only be available for substitution treatment of people with drug addiction.
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 a range of public, political and media forums.
Sign up to become a member and receive information about how you can get further involved.