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Will the feds raid this Christmas tree? Rick Wilking/Reuters

Goliath vs. 24 Davids: federalism and legal marijuana

Abraham Lincoln said that those who shape public opinion exert an even greater influence than judges and lawmakers. In recent years popular sentiment – on issues like marriage equality and legalization…
Housing First is a program that offers housing to homeless drug users – regardless of whether or not they’re drug free – with a goal of social recovery. Bryan Guilas/Flickr

Being drug free shouldn’t be a requirement to receive housing

Over the past decade, drug use in the US has risen dramatically, with heroin use reaching epidemic proportions. The country’s policy for combating abuse has involved incarceration, abstinence-only treatment…
Legalised programs may be underused if doctors do not support them. boodoo/Flickr

Legalising medical cannabis: lessons from Canada’s policies

A bill to permit medical cannabis use in Australia is set for debate in Senate. If medical cannabis use is legalised, doctors could become gatekeepers between patients and a controversial drug. Lessons…
Anti-government messages on Mexico City streets: “Phony government that shoots at students.” Tomas Bravo/Reuters

Murder and the Mexican state

Most murders in the United States are well hidden. Popular tourist cities like Chicago, New Orleans and Washington D.C. have homicide rates substantially higher than the national average. At times they…
Zero tolerance is a faith and not a policy. Creativity103/Flickr

Like men possessed: what are illicit drug laws really for?

According to the UK government’s “first evidence-based study”, released at the end of last week, tough laws for personal possession of illicit drugs fail to lower levels of their use. This is not news…
The home-baked illicit drug krokodil first emerged in provincial Russia during the early 2000s. Dorin Popa/Flickr

The rise and fall of Russia’s ‘flesh-eating drug’ krokodil

Reports of a “flesh-eating zombie drug” called krokodil, accompanied by lurid images first appeared in English during 2010. The drug serves as an excellent illustration of the havoc bad drug policies can…
Most of the world continues with a criminal justice approach to drug use despite ample evidence of its harmfulness. Jason Verwey/Flickr

What works best in the war on drugs

In 1967, the Beatles took out a full-page advertisement in The Times describing Britain’s marijuana laws as “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice”. Almost half a century later, both past and…
The use of crystal meth among Australians continues to increase and remains at a high level, according to a new report. AAP/NSW Police

Ice age: the rise of crystal meth in Australia

The 2012-13 Australian Crime Commission (ACC) Illicit Drug Data Report, released earlier this week, provides mounting evidence that crystal meth is becoming a large-scale problem for law enforcement and…
Mexicans are taking matters into their own hands. Esther Vargas

Vigilantes patrol as Mexico concludes its energy reform

In 2013, Mexico signed into law an important and controversial set of structural reforms, one of which opens the way for foreign companies to profit from Mexico’s oil holdings. An article in The Economist…
Younger Chinese revellers are seeking new highs. Ding Zhou

China’s drug takers are chasing newer highs

The close of 2013 saw a drugs bust of cinematic proportions in China. Part of Operation Thunder, more than 3,000 armed police with a cavalry of helicopters, motorboats and police dogs busted the village…
Drug lord Pablo Escobar was regarded as one of the most powerful entities within Latin America, but his legacy remains the subject of debate. Thierry Ehrmann

Pablo Escobar and the legacy of drug warfare in Latin America

Even today, some 20 years after his death, there is still debate in Colombia on how to interpret the mythology surrounding feared drug lord Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel. Escobar was regarded as…
Perhaps the UK could buy a starter kit? Rose Robinson

Free the weed, but growing an effective market would be tough

We appear to be on the cusp of a major change in the laws surrounding the use and sale of cannabis. Several nations have now decriminalised usage, and the first steps toward full legalisation have taken…
In contrast to War on Drugs rhetoric, many young people report that illicit drug use is manageable, pleasurable and creates social opportunities. Poldavo

What do young people gain from drug use?

The idea that illicit drugs could hold value in the lives of young people is bewildering to most people, who tend to assume that illicit drug use is necessarily destructive. This becomes even more distressing…
Peru is now the world’s leading producer of coca leaves, used in cocaine. Should this mark a new shift in the War on Drugs? Julyinireland

Supply and demand: the changing nature of the War on Drugs

The United Nations has recently announced that Peru has taken over Colombia as the largest producer of illegal coca leaves, the base for the drug cocaine. This comes as Brazil becomes the second biggest…
War on Drugs proponents have argued the closure of Silk Road is going to make the public safer from the harms caused by illicit drugs, but does the evidence back up this view? AAP/AFP

Misguided optimism: the Silk Road closure and the War on Drugs

The recent closure of illicit drugs website Silk Road by the FBI has been hailed as a decisive blow in the fight against organised crime and another victory in the global War on Drugs. Although a minor…
Busted: only about 15% of drugs cross the border on mules. The rest is in big shipments. PA Wire

Five myths about drug mules and the death penalty

Drug mules have barely been out of the UK news this August. First the “Peru two”, Melissa Reid from Scotland and Michaela Connolly from Ireland, were arrested attempting to leave Lima with just under 12kgs…

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