Positioning on Addiction and Drug Policies

The Dianova Network supports the decriminalization of the use of all psychoactive substances

Cannabis leafDespite the failures in drug policies (in thwarting illegal trafficking and containing the rise of drug use), Dianova considers that the global situation of drug users has developed positively in many countries. The action of non-governmental organizations, associations and drug users associations, has led the general public to regard addicts in a less negative way, while has encouraged governments to adopt essential public health measures, such as harm reduction policies and measures to promote treatment and rehabilitation.

This development is in line  with the necessary change in the paradigm of the international drug control regime. We believe it is essential to stop criminalizing drug users and focus on balanced and complementary public health approaches, based on proven methodologies.

Some approaches to treatment and rehabilitation, such as professionalized therapeutic communities, are part of these methods. Harm reduction policies are effective and inexpensive, but they cannot meet the needs of all addicts. Residential or outpatient rehabilitation programs are comparatively more expensive, but in the long term, they represent a profitable investment in terms of reducing health costs, crime and absenteeism at work, in particular. This is why we urge governments to implement a series of complementary approaches without favoring one approach over another.

  • The Dianova Network recognizes the limits of an international regime grounded primarily on prohibition and repression. The ideal of a drug-free world was credible fifty years ago, but it is not anymore, based on the data that we have today.  The inability to stop the increase in traffic, corruption and use of psychoactive substances, particularly among young people, demonstrates the necessity to revise the existing approach.
  • The Dianova Network supports a reform of the general framework of conventions and institutions of the United Nations on drugs towards a public health approach. This framework should move from an approach essentially based on prohibition and criminalization to a public health approach respectful of human rights. The reform should also encourage innovation and finding solutions to a problem in constant evolution, including an enhanced treatment offer. Moreover, we expect agencies of the United Nations to play a leading role in this change of mentality, encouraging States to find a set of adapted and complementary solutions.
  • The Dianova Network supports the launch of nationwide debates about addiction.  We consider that a change of mind regarding the problem of addiction in each country is imperative. That is why we support the implementation of a multidisciplinary discussion among political, scientific and social agents at the same time, pointing to a development of recommendations to reduce drug-related harm, while taking into account each substance’s specificity.
  • The Dianova Network supports the decriminalization of the use of all psychoactive substances. Hundreds of thousands of addicts are criminalized, sentenced to long prison terms or even, in some countries, sentenced to the death penalty for the use of illegal drugs. Even democratic states condemn people to the burden of a criminal record that denies them access to certain jobs. We support the implementation of policies based on public health and human rights and demand to end these inefficient repressive policies that only marginalize drug users and reduce their access to the services they need.
  • The Dianova Network supports the implementation of measures based on scientific evidence. There ought to be a limit on the weight of ideologies and subjective representations. Approaches and programs validated by scientific evidence should be promoted and their outcomes regularly monitored and evaluated.
  • The Dianova Network supports the implementation of additional and innovative measures. Focusing on a single approach or a single program (e.g. residential or outpatient treatment or harm reduction programs only) cannot answer every substance abuser’s specific needs. For this reason, we support the implementation of innovative solutions and complementary and alternative approaches based on the needs and fundamental rights of individuals in the areas of addiction treatment and prevention.
  • The Dianova Network supports the access to medical cannabis for patients. Dianova believes that the current available scientific data demonstrates the validity of the therapeutic uses of cannabis, particularly for its analgesic, relaxing, antispasmodic and antiemetic properties, stimulation of appetite, etc. Therefore, the Network estimates that concerned patients should have access to a product whose quality is monitored, distributed in pharmacies or specialized centers, and according to methods of administration approved by health authorities.
  • The Dianova Network defends universal access to essential medicines and pain relief for all patients. The drug control system does not allow fair access to certain medications such as opioid analgesics that are essential for the treatment of avoidable suffering and pain. Dianova demands the elimination of all political obstacles that prevent some States with low and middle income to ensure adequate provisions of such substances, which is a basic human right.
  • The Dianova Network acknowledges the decision of several States to implement a policy of liberalization / regulation of cannabis. Dianova deems that the current scientific knowledge and the negative consequences of cannabis prohibition support the decision of these States. However, given the remaining doubts about these policies, with particular reference to the health risks associated with cannabis and the risk of a significant increase in consumption among young people, the Dianova Network simply acknowledges this decision and remains vigilant to the evolution of the resulting scientific knowledge of these policies.
  • The Dianova Network is positioned against the liberalization/regulation of illicit substances. Ensuring an effective control of the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, especially in children and young adults, is already a difficult, even impossible task for governments. For this reason and based on current knowledge, the risk of a dramatic increase in the consumption of drugs, should the latter be legalized, is too great to choose this path.