Launched in 2008, the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program aims to shift the paradigm of drug policies around the world from today’s punitive approach to one rooted in public health and human rights. With very few exceptions, national drug laws and policies seek primarily to punish illicit drug production, possession, use and even dependence. In the worst cases, drug users are made to be scapegoats for a wide range of social problems, and sanctions are vastly disproportionate to the supposed offenses.
Implementing military strategies in producer countries (aerial spraying to eradicate crops is perhaps the most egregious example) has harmed the well-being of communities, damaged the environment, and violated basic human rights. Relying on the criminal justice system to solve the drug problem is at minimum ineffective and expensive, and is ultimately irrational.
The long term goal of the Global Drug Policy Program is to help drive reform for international and national drug laws, policies and programs to make them based on public health and to respect human rights. Program grantmaking has the following objectives:
- Supporting the drug policy reform movement
- Spurring the development of new drug policy organizations
- Expanding the range of stakeholders with a commitment to drug policy reform
- Maximizing impact through collaboration
- Empowering drug users
- Expanding the research base
- Engaging law enforcement in policy reform