Project Pages

The GDPO project pages host our research so that interested individuals and organisations can access all the information related to our specific research topics in just one click. Each project page is dedicated to a specific theme or region and holds related blog posts, audio and video clips, maps, images and a wide range of sources on relevant areas of drug policy.

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

Crypto-Drug Markets

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The prohibition dominated approach to non-medical and non-scientific use of certain psychoactive substances is a long-standing feature of international drug policy, but the trade in drugs online is a relatively new feature.  Historic interventions by state and international law enforcement agencies against online drug transactions on the clearnet, combined with the increasingly de-anonymised nature of the internet in general, have driven the online drug trade underground, into cryptographically obscured spaces on the darknet.  The growing trade in narcotics being sold over Crypto-Drug Markets (CDMs) is causing academics, law enforcement and policy makers to reassess the impact of ICT technology on drug policy enforcment.  The CDM project page aims to provide a useful resource for those attempting to understand the complicated nexus of drug policy and the internet. 

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Metrics Project

Although recent years have witnessed an increasingly honest and sophisticated discourse on the measurement of illicit drug markets, metrics relating to drug policy outcomes remain dominated by the activities of law enforcement agencies. This owes much to the underlying philosophy of the extant UN based international drug control system and an approach that has delivered few sustained and geographically widespread successes. Current metrics are resilient in part because they provide politically useful certainty within a complex, fluid and ultimately problematic policy domain. This is the case even though traditional indicators are increasingly at odds with policy shifts seeking to reduce the overall harm of illicit drug markets. While alert to the need for national, even local, specificity, more appropriate and holistic indicators at the multilateral level could be developed around the core purpose and principles of the UN itself and the security and health of citizens and the social and economic development of communities. 

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Cannabis Policy Reform

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The creation of legally regulated cannabis markets in a number of US states and, at the national level, in Uruguay has generated tensions within the UN drug control regime and shaken the foundations of the prohibition oriented “Vienna consensus” that has dominated international drug policy for several decades.  What’s more, further voter referenda on cannabis regulation in the US are certain with various Latin American and Caribbean states increasingly debating alternatives to prohibition of the drug.  Within this context, this project page aims to provide a useful resource for those interested in the latest policy developments around cannabis within the Americas and beyond - including the broader historical context in which they are taking place.

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Drug Policy in Africa

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 ‌Traditionally African states have pursued a law enforcement approach to drug policy although in some regions this is now changing. An example of this change is in West Africa where the West African Commission on Drugs is working to mobilise public awareness and political commitment, develop local and regional capacities and ownership and produce evidence-based policy recommendations – focusing on the security and governance impacts of drug trafficking as well as prevention and treatment of drug dependency. One of the biggest problems in Africa however, is the lack of reliable data.  Moreover, the fact that there likely to be large-scale ‘hidden populations’ makes the task of developing appropriate policy challenging. The Drug Policy in Africa project page aims to provide a useful resource for those attempting to understand the complicated nature of drug policy on the continent.

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Drugs and Conflict

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The production and movement of illicit drugs is closely connected with violence.  As criminal gangs and so-called drug ‘cartels’ attempt to secure trafficking routes, move drugs, and consolidate and expand territories of control, they regularly clash with rival organisations and with the state.  At the same time, many security forces have been shown to be linked with traffickers, and violent responses to the trafficking and production of drugs often provide the spark for horrendous levels of violence; as demonstrated in Mexico since 2006.  In both cases, it is the population who suffer.  Drug production often takes place in insecure areas, including war zones - almost the entire world’s heroin production occurs in a country at war.  While violence and conflict have many sources, too often the drugs issue serves as a catchall to simplify complex conditions, ignoring the underlying factors that drugs can serve to inflame rather than create.  This project focuses on analysing the interplay between drugs and violent conflict, on bringing context to the debate, and on advocating strategies that combat violence with the concern for human rights and a reduction in the level of harm caused.  

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The United Nations

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In 2016, the UN General Assembly held a Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem.  This reviewed progress made by the international community in achieving the goals set in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem; the soft law consensus document resulting from negotiations at the High Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.  The UNGASS, however, was held amidst a mood of growing discontent.  Indeed, today the so-called Vienna Consensus on drug policy is fractured with the UN based control framework coming under increasing scrutiny.  This is particularly so in Latin America, where, influenced largely by drug market violence, sitting presidents have, for the first time, been openly questioning the current approach. 

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