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Amnesty International Calls for Human Rights-Based Policies

In a powerful move to mark World Drugs Day on 26 June, Amnesty International has released a new policy paper calling for the reform of drug policies to better uphold human rights. This call comes as activists worldwide unite under the #SupportDontPunish campaign, highlighting the need for a significant shift in how cannabis is regulated.

A Paradigm Shift in Cannabis Control

Amnesty International's latest position urges states to adopt new models of drug control that prioritise the health and human rights of individuals. Central to this call is the decriminalisation of cannabis use, possession, cultivation, and acquisition for personal use. The organisation advocates for the effective regulation of cannabis to create legal and safe channels for access, moving away from the repressive policies that have historically harmed rather than protected people.

Human Rights at the Forefront

One of the key principles outlined by Amnesty International is that drug control should not justify human rights violations. Instead, it should serve as a means to realise the right to health and other fundamental human rights. The current "war on drugs" approach has disproportionately affected the poorest and most marginalised communities, undermining the rights of millions. The organisation emphasises that people who use drugs do not forfeit their human rights and should be protected rather than criminalised.

Health-Centric Policies

The policy paper stresses the importance of expanding health and social services to address drug-related issues and the socio-economic factors that drive people to use drugs. This includes tackling poverty, discrimination, unemployment, illness, denial of education, and lack of housing. By addressing these underlying causes, states can better protect individuals from the harmful effects of drugs.

Learning from Alternative Models

Amnesty International highlights the need to draw lessons from alternative models of state regulation that have been more effective in protecting human rights. Examples include the regulation of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes and decriminalisation efforts in various regions. These models have shown positive impacts on public health and human rights, offering valuable insights for new policy development.

No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

The policy paper acknowledges that there is no universal solution. Policies must be adapted to specific drugs and the social realities of different groups, based on health and scientific considerations and in alignment with human rights. New regulatory models should be flexible and responsive to the diverse needs seen in various contexts and regions.

A Call for Change

Amnesty International's call to regain control by moving towards the state regulation of cannabis aims to ensure that states fulfil their human rights obligations. The heavy reliance on criminal laws and punitive measures has failed to decrease cannabis use and availability over the years, exacerbating risks and harms associated with its use and the violence linked to illicit markets.

Looking Ahead

As the world continues to evolve its approach to drug policies, Amnesty International's latest stance on cannabis regulation marks a significant step towards public health- and human rights-based policies. By placing human rights at the centre of cannabis control, there is hope for a more just and effective approach that benefits individuals and societies alike.

You can read the full report by Amnesty International below.

Download PDF • 3.01MB

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