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. 

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

UK General Election 2019: Where do the parties stand on drug policy?

GDPO Situation Analysis, December 2019

Martin Horton-Eddison & Joe Whittaker

On the 12th December 2019, the United Kingdom goes to the polls for a third general election in four years. Building on the GDPO’s popular appraisal of party drug policy during the 2017 campaign, this Situation Analysis presents the party manifesto positions for 2019, including comparison of party policy shifts during the past three elections, and analysis of party positions in relation to punitive versus public health approaches.

Read the full analysis here GDPO Situation Analysis; Where the Parties Stand 2019

Opioid Analgesics in India

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GDPO Situation Analysis December 2018

Áron Suba  & Sebastián Soto

Rising cancer rates in the second most populated country on earth evidences that while the disease is no longer specific to the developed world, the availability of World Health Organization recommended medicines that can treat extreme pain nevertheless remains confined to the Global North. Despite India’s position as a leading global producer of medical opioids, hundreds of thousands of patients in the country suffer unnecessary pain; access to opioid analgesics remains low and uneven across the country. Multiple factors account for this, including India’s regulatory regime, the lack of implementation of positive legislative changes, and training issues and stigma associated with opioids. In spite of these barriers, the Indian state of Kerala provides positive examples which may present lessons for broader nationwide reform.

Read the full analysis here: Opioid Analgesics in India: Low Access and Hope for Change

Drug Policy in East Africa

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GDPO Situation Analysis November 2018

Apondi Bernice Auma

Traditionally, East African countries have followed punitive drug policies and criminalised drug use. For People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) there is limited access to health care services. Many policy makers in this region are yet to understand the shift toward public health approaches; a shift that encourages drug users to access health care to prevent and reduce the risk of HIV infection. The East Africa Community in collaboration with KANCO (Kenya Aids NGO Consortium) is working to develop a regional policy targeting people who use drugs. If approved, the document will act as blueprint for the region in service delivery for people who inject drugs.

Read the full analysis here: Drug Policy in East Africa

Hungary's NPS 'Problem'?

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GDPO Situation Analysis, November 2018

Anna Maria Dzunic

Hungarian drug laws are set out in the 2012 Penal Code. They are among the harshest in the EU. The country did not have a comprehensive national drug strategy between 2010 and 2015, with the Penal Code serving as the primary drug strategy of the country. The lack of strategy was particularly problematic in the light of new psychoactive substances (NPS) that reached the country in 2010. Thus, no nation-wide data collection has taken place that could be used to evaluate the effects of NPS consumption on public health. Coupling this limited information with macro-economic indices - specifically the economic decline of the rural poor (who are assumed to be the primary consumers of NPS) - a grim picture can be portrayed where some experts expect a whole generation to be lost due to NPS consumption.

Read the full analysis here:GDPO Situation Analysis, November 2018


Narrative & Regulatory Norms Surrounding Drug Users in Video Games

GDPO Situation Analysis, October 2018

Nicholas Sertich

Both regulations and depictions of drug use in gaming contribute to the suppression regime around drugs. Drug users and dealers are portrayed as violent, destabilising forces that are rightly met with violence. Regulators and creators contribute to the stigmatisation of drug users by encouraging drug use to be in the most of violent games. Taken together, this helps to legitimise the use of punitive and securitised measures against dealers especially.

In particular, this Situation Analysis uses Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) as a case study as it encompasses many common trends, while also being the 3rd top-selling game of all time with over 85 million copies in circulation.

Readthe full analysis here: Narrative and Regulatory Norms Surrounding Drug Users in Video Games

Pakistan’s HIV Epidemic and the Need for Prison-Based Harm Reduction Programmes

GDPO Situation Analysis, October 2018

Faryal Sajjad

Pakistan is advancing towards a public health crisis with an estimated 133,529 people having contracted HIV/AIDS. Problematically, ‘the primary mode of HIV [and Hepatitis B and C] transmission in Pakistan continues to be the use of contaminated injection equipment among people who inject drugs’ (PWID) with prison inmates being one of the most vulnerable populations. Needle-based harm reduction programmes are non-existent in Pakistan’s prisons, in contrast to neighbouring Iran, which following a surge in prison-based HIV infections, introduced harm reduction programmes in 2003. Iran’s approach holds important lessons for Pakistan, not only because the two countries have been religiously and ideologically close, but also because the success of Iran’s harm reduction programme has been achieved through attitudinal changes by policymakers. 

Read the full analysis here: Pakistan’s HIV Epidemic and the Need for Prison-Based Harm Reduction Programmes

The Environmental Impacts of the Legalization of Cannabis in California

GDPO Situation Analysis, July 2018

Jasmin Gamez

In November 2016, Proposition 64 was passed in California allowing for the legalization of recreational cannabis use. The measure came into effect on January 1, 2018 with California joining 28 other US states that have legislated for the medical and/or recreational use of cannabis. Cannabis legalization in California is expected to generate $3.7 billion in sales in 2018, but requires policy initiatives to mitigate potential negative environmental impacts. California is in a unique position to create a sustainable cannabis industry...

Read the full analysis here: Environmental Impacts of the Legalization of Cannabis in California

Gender and Drugs in Myanmar

GDPO Situation Analysis, June 2018

Mai Hla Aye

In February 2018, Myanmar launched the National Drug Policy Control (NDPC) with the assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The NDPC aims to promote evidence-based and public health and human-centred approaches to drug issues. It includes programmes and interventions for women through integrating gender sensitivity, in line with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This policy reorientation comes after decades of punitive approaches to drug users that negatively impacted women...

Read the full report here: Gender and Drugs in Myanmar


analysis coverGDPO Situation Analysis, June 2018

Maria-Goretti Ane

Recently, the government of Ghana proposed the Narcotics Control Commission Bill of 2017 (NCC) to replace the current Narcotic Drugs (Control, Enforcement, and Sanctions) Law of 1990 (PNDCL 236) that criminalizes all drug-related activities including drug use, possession, trade, and production. NCC aims to decriminalise drug consumption in Ghana. The initiative is a recognition of the grave impact on public health of the country’s current drug legislation, which imposes punitive sanctions on those engaged in the consumption, production, and trafficking. However, the ramifications of legal change could be felt beyond the country as Ghana could become a norm entrepreneur in the region for harm reduction policies....

Read the fullanalysis here: Ghana Strives for a More Humane Drug Policy

Crypto-Market Enforcement - New Strategy and Tactics

GDPO Situation Analysis, June 2018

Alois Afilipoaie and Patrick Shortis

Between June and July 2017, two law enforcement actions targeted the cryptomarkets AlphaBay and Hansa Market, closed them, and arrested their operators, seizing millions of dollars in assets in the process. These operations, dubbed ‘Operation Bayonet’ (AlphaBay) and ‘Operation GraveSac’ (Hansa) saw a shift in the strategy and tactics that law enforcement agencies are using to target cryptomarket activity on the Tor network.4 By deconstructing the operation, this situational analysis aims to provide pertinent lessons on how law enforcement agencies have adapted their approach towards tackling cryptomarkets.

Read the full analysis here: Crypto Market Enforcemnet New Strategy and Tactics

Cannabis and the Drug Law in Tunisia: A Reform Rooted in Social Justice Claims

Cannabis and the Drug Law in Tunisia: A Reform Rooted in Social Justice Claims

Khalid Tinasti

Drug control policies in Tunisia are guided by the 1992 Narcotics Act (Act 92-52), adopted under the dictatorship following the 1987 Coup d’Etat. Until April 2017, the Act was one of the most punitive drug control laws in the world, sentencing people convicted of drug use or possession of small amounts to a mandatory minimum of one year in prison, and a monetary fine of 1000 Tunisian Dinars (400 USD). The specificity of this law has been the mandatory nature of its sentences, and the incapacity of judges to take into account mitigating circumstances, making it the only law in the Tunisian criminal code depriving judges of their discretion. This specific legal provision, as dictated by article 12 of the Act, was amended by the Tunisian Parliament in April 2017 to address prison overcrowding...

Read the full analysis here: Cannabis and the Drug Law in Tunisia A Reform Rooted in Social Justice Claims

Updating Escrow: Demystifying the CDM multisig process

GDPO Situation Analysis, July 2017

Martin Horton-Eddison

Until now, the Crypto-Drug Market (CDM) escrow process has been described according to a historic centralised escrow system.  However, centralised escrow is fast becoming obsolete, with four of the five most popular current CDMs now offering a form of decentralised escrow, known as multisignature (multisig). Multisig is therefore rapidly becoming the industry standard for ameliorating financial risk in CDM transactions. This Situation Analysis is intended to clarify the multisig process. It presents an analysis of the background to the shift toward decentralisation, a description of the new process, and a diagrammatic representation of the multisig escrow model.

Read the full analysis here: Updating Escrow Demystifying the CDM multisig process

Corpus Linguistics Methodology on the Silk Road(s): The Escrow Example

GDPO Situation Analysis June 2017

Matteo Di Cristofaro & Martin Horton-Eddison

This Situation Analysis is a methodological paper intended to supplement the research findings presented in GDPO Policy Brief 11, Horton-Eddison, M. & Di Cristofaro, M., Hard Interventions and Innovation in Crypto-Drug Markets

Subject: The application of Corpus Linguistics to the concept of innovation in crypto-drug markets.  This analysis shows the application of Corpus Linguistics methodology and of CADS (Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies) approach to data extracted from Crypto-Drug Market (CDM) communities. The aim is twofold: First, to demonstrate how the analysis of textual data created by CDM users can help pin-point  the impact that ‘real-life’ events (in this case, the FBI’s seizure and closure of Silk Road, and the theft of a substantial amount of Bitcoin on Silk Road 2) have on online crypto-communities.  Second, to illustrate how linguistics theories and methodologies may be used to investigate how ‘trust’ is established/reinforced in online CDM communities.

Read the full analysis here: Corpus Linguistics Methodology on the Silk Road The Escrow Example

UK General Election 2017: Where do the parties stand on drug policy?

GDPO Situation Analysis June 2017

Martin Horton-Eddison and Joe Whittaker

On the 8th June, the United Kingdom goes to the polls for a second general election in under two years.  Following the EU referendum last June, the issue of Brexit continues to dominate the campaign discourse, with security also front and centre since the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.  Important - yet less eye-catching - issues have taken a back seat in the campaign, including the issue of drugs policy.  That said, most of the major national parties have included some kind of manifesto pledge regarding their approach to illicit drug markets, and an evaluation of the differing positions is therefore warranted.  This Situation Analysis has crawled the 2015 and 2017 manifesto pledges of all of the major national parties, and presents an evaluative summary of the explicit and implicit policy pledges, and direction of policy travel, of each.... 

Read the full analysis here: UK General Election 2017 - Where do the parties stand on drug policy

Ganja in the English-speaking Caribbean

GDPO Situation Analysis October 2016

Axel Klein

In 2015 Jamaica implemented substantial reforms to its Dangerous Drugs Act. Cannabis possession of up to two ounces was made a ticketable offence and cannabis cultivation up to five plants, cannabis use in private homes is no longer an offence, and consumption by persons of the Rastafarian faith, for medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes is permitted. Future developments depend partly on decisions in the US, including the referenda on cannabis legalisation in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. Small, developing island states like Jamaica are exposed to policy shifts by the regional hegemon. Less attention is paid to the European Commission which is the largest development donor in the Caribbean region and has been active in drugs policy for decades. There is a ready opportunity for switching towards a development oriented policy.

Read the full article: Ganja in the English-speaking Caribbean

US Drug Policy: Clinton Vs. Trump

GDPO Situation Analysis October 2016

Benoît Gomis

On 8th November, the United States will select their next President. Although drug policy will not be a key deciding factor in the election, it has occupied a far more central role than in previous cycles. An analysis of the proposals put forward by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump points to a chasm between the two main candidates – in both their vision and understanding of the issues at hand. On the same day, five states - Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – will also vote on whether to legalize and regulate the production, distribution and use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Once again, local policy experimentation will have a significant impact on the country’s drugs landscape...

Read the full analysis here: US drug policy - Clinton vs Trump

Colombia: Drugs and the Peace Agreement.

GDPO Situation Analysis September 2016

Ross Eventon

On August 24th, after more than four years of negotiations, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement that will, pending a referendum on October 2nd, bring to an end more than sixty years of armed conflict. Colombia is the world’s second largest cultivator of coca and its primary producer of cocaine. The peace agreement could significantly alter the government’s approach to illicit drugs, and the demobilisation of the FARC guerrilla will have implications for the dynamics of the local drug trade. The government is now, in principle, committed to a new national drug policy and to significant new initiatives in rural areas where illicit crops are cultivated.

Read the full analysis here: Colombia - Drugs and the Peace Agreement