In defence of decriminalisation —a baseline upon which to build sustainable drug policy

Organised by Dejusticia, Drug Policy Alliance, the European Network of People who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD), GAT Portugal, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the Manas Grupo de Apoio Mútuo project, Release, the South African Network of People who Use Drugs (SANPUD), the Support. Don’t Punish campaign & TalkingDrugs

The fight for drug decriminalisation is at a critical juncture. Historically championed by community-led organisations and civil society, the movement to remove criminal penalties for activities related to drug use has gained momentum as an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world embrace this legal framework. Crucially, the United Nations system recently threw its weight behind decriminalisation, signalling a global shift in perspective. However, this progress is not without its challenges. In certain regions, reactionary responses point fingers at decriminalisation for the fallout of failing systems of care and social protection, endangering its broader acceptance. Adding complexity to this landscape, most of the nearly 70 jurisdictions where decriminalisation is currently in practice have adopted models that counterproductively perpetuate surveillance, control and punitive measures within a system intended to foster autonomy and wellbeing. Moreover, these models often fall short in allocating the necessary resources for the crucial infrastructure of support that decriminalisation is meant to facilitate access to.

Drawing from the latest updates to the Drug Decriminalisation Across the World map, as well as from the experiences and insights of colleagues from across the globe, this event seeks to dispel myths surrounding decriminalisation and showcase exemplary practices. Importantly, it embraces a critical perspective on decriminalisation not to undermine its progress or capitulate to prohibitionist orthodoxies but rather to refine and further enhance this framework in service of our communities.

Introductory remarks:

  • Juan Fernández Ochoa, International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
  • André Belchior Gomes, Release & TalkingDrugs – United Kingdom


  • Isabel Pereira, Dejusticia – Colombia
  • Theshia Naidoo, Drug Policy Alliance – United States
  • Joana Canêdo, European Network of People who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD) & Manas Grupo de Apoio Mútuo – Portugal
  • Angela McBride, South African Network of People Who Use Drugs (SANPUD) – South Africa
October 3, 2023
From: 15:00  
to 16:30
Event Type: Virtual
Languages: English
Campaign Partners:
International Drug Policy Consortium
Support. Don’t Punish