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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All GDPO material published on this website is licensed under a CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Featured Publications

Featured Publications

Dealing with Synthetics: Time to Reframe the Narrative

Julia Buxton, Dave Bewley-Taylor, and Christopher Hallam

The market for synthetic drugs has grown exponentially in recent years, becoming the second-most illicit drugs consumed after cannabis. In 2014, the UN estimated that there were 35.7 million users of amphetamine type stimulants, and 19.4 million users of ecstasy. These synthetic drugs outstripped the estimated totals of opioids and cocaine combined. Alongside this consumption is that of New Psychoactive Substances that fall outside the control regime and its schedules, which the regime is now attempting to integrate into national and international controls. While there was some awareness of the advent of new synthetic drugs in the aftermath of the Second World War and since the 1960s, it is only over recent years, and especially in the wake of the 2016 UNGASS in New York, that a truly serious understanding of the challenges posed by proliferating synthetic drugs has begun to emerge from the international drug control regime.  It is now time to reframe the narrative surrounding the way the international community deals with synthetic drugs....

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GDPO Quarterly News: April 2017 – June 2017

The second quarter of 2017 was once again a busy period for the GDPO team, particularly in terms of conference attendance and research presentations. April saw Julia attend the Society for Latin American Studies conference where she moderated a panel on drug economies in South America.   Among the presentations was one by Alan Gillies, University of Glasgow and recently appointed GDPO Research Associate, on rent seeking (cocaine revenues) and political transition in Bolivia.  The panel also included Lucia Pol (CELS Argentina), who presented on the human rights dimensions of drug policy enforcement with reference to Argentina.  During the quarter Julia also became a member of the board of YODA (Youth Organisations for Drug Action), a network of youth and student based organisations first established in 2011 to enhance the voice of young people in drug policy deliberations. April also saw Dave, Martin and Nuria Lorenzo-Dus, Professor of English Language and Applied Linguistics and Swansea University’s Language Research Centre, travel to London to present at a roundtable co-organised by GDPO, IDPC and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

 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