The recent legalisation of cannabis by the Constitutional Court has sparked conversation of a policy to regulate all drug use in South Africa.

During the South African Drug Policy Week held in Woodstock this week, delegates from the Global Commission on Drug Policy moved conversation towards ending the prohibition of drugs and focusing on regulating them instead.

The commission expressed that current methods and policies are inefficient, costly and harmful, leading to militarisation, mass incarceration, forced treatment, and broken families and communities – most importantly, they also result in loss of human dignity and lives.

Attendees at the South African Drug Policy Week examine the impact of drug policy and the effective approach of addressing drug use in communities.

Delegates are calling for an evidence-based, and human-rights-informed, public health policy, focused on the reduction of harm and protection of drug users.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, responded to a Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem in a recent statement.

Attempts to eradicate drug supply and use through prohibition-based repressive measures against people who use drugs have proved expensive and counter-productive for more than 50 years, says the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

“Just as we regulate everything, every substance and every behaviour that is of potential risk. We do not prohibit alcohol, tobacco, food preservatives, driving cars. We regulate what is risky and this is the government’s responsibility,” said Michel Kazatchkine, commissioner of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Last week, a new report was launched by Global Commission on Drug Policy titled, Regulation: the responsible control of drugs, in Mexico City and New York, which addresses the reality that more than 250-million people around the world consume prohibited drugs.

The report examines how governments can move to regulate drugs as the realistic and responsible alternative to prohibition. Rather than continuing failed strategies of the past, the Global Commission is proposing ways forward that can help deliver on the shared United Nations goals of peace, development, and human rights for all.

“Accepting this reality and putting in place an effective regulatory strategy to manage it, is part of a responsible, evidence-based approach that deals with the world as it is, in contrast with ideologically driven and ultimately counterproductive attempts to create a ‘drug-free world’,” said the statement.

Shaun Shelly, founder of the South African Drug Policy Week, said they are finding new approaches and paths towards effective drug policy and interventions that focus not only on the individual, but also the context and the systemic drivers that make the use of drugs more harmful than it need be.

A few tweets following the conference:

Picture: Unsplash

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