Information about the Observatory

GDPO LogoNational and international drug policies and programmes that privilege  harsh law enforcement and punishment in an effort to eliminate the cultivation, production, trade and use of controlled substances – what has become known as the ‘war on drugs’ – are coming under increased scrutiny. The Global Drug Policy Observatory aims to promote evidence and human rights based drug policy through the comprehensive and rigorous reporting, monitoring and analysis of policy developments at national and international levels. Acting as a platform from which to reach out to and engage with broad and diverse audiences, the initiative aims to help improve the sophistication and horizons of the current policy debate among the media and elite opinion formers as well as within law enforcement and policy making communities. The Observatory engages in a range of research activities that explore not only the dynamics and implications of existing and emerging policy issues, but also the processes behind policy shifts at various levels of governance.

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Featured Publications

Featured Publications

Better to Ask Forgiveness than Permission: Spain's Sub-National Approach to Drug Policy

GDPO Policy Brief 12, June 2016 

Constanza Sánchez & Michael Collins

In recent years, the international debate on drug policy reform has intensified, and with it has come a productive exchange of information between academics, activists and advocates on the diverse models and approaches in different countries. Portugal’s decriminalization model is the subject of numerous reports and articles, the legalization of cannabis in a number of U.S. states and Uruguay is heavily studied. Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HAT) in Switzerland is often discussed, and the Czech Republic’s progressive drug policy has been much heralded. On the outside looking in is Spain, a country with a curious mix of cannabis clubs, decriminalization of drug possession for personal use, innovative harm reduction policies, drug checking, and more. It also occupies an interesting geographical position as a transit hub for drugs entering Europe from the Americas and North Africa. Yet in mainstream drug policy discussions, little is known of the Spanish approach to drug policy... 

Click to read of download full report: Better to Ask Forgiveness than Permission: Spain's Sub-National Approach to Drug Policy

GDPO Quarterly News: July 2017 – October 2017

The beginning of 2017’s third quarter saw the GDPO welcome Allan Gillies, GDPO Research Associate, to Swansea University. In an event co-hosted by GDPO and the Department of Political Studies’ International Studies, Conflict and Security (ISCAS) research group, he presented a research paper drawing on his PhD thesis titled ‘Theorising State-Narco Relations in the Global South: Governance, Order and Bolivia’s Political Transition (1982-1993)’.  Allan’s visit was hot on the heels of Dave’s brief visit to Africa.  This was part of the development of the ‘Barriers to Access’ project and involved interviews with medical professionals directly engaged with palliative care as well as officials within the Botswanan police service and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  The following month, Axel attended the 'Making sense of Poly drug use' workshop organised by the Finnish National Institute for health and welfare, where he gave a paper called ‘Poly is a joker - the political construction of mono drug use as anti-norm’.  Please contact Alex directly if you want him to explain the title.  August also saw Martin Horton-Eddison filming the Crypto-Drug Markets expert session for a forthcoming Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on drug policy, hosted by the Graduate Institute in Geneva...  

 To read more, and to see previous quarterly news reports, click here

GDPO Situation Analysis

The GDPO Situation Analysis provides the diversity of stakeholders within the drug policy arena with concise, cutting edge assessment of key topics, enabling informed engagement with pertinent developments and debates. Presented in a focused and standardised format, the SA flags risks, opportunities and future trends in crucial issue areas, delivering to readers actionable information and evidence based insight.

Click here to read all our Situation Analysis