In 2020, the world grappled with an unprecedented global pandemic that overshadowed critical shifts in drug policy reform and community-led responses within harm reduction.
Drug policy reform, specifically decriminalisation, in some national contexts has been viewed as politically transformative by many. However, people who use drugs, those most directly impacted by policy changes, have criticised predominant decriminalisation models and practices as misleading. Up until now there has been insufficient analyses and unpacking of the different models of decriminalisation and their direct impact on the lives of people who use drugs. This session will launch a new, first of its kind publication to address this gap, exploring the different decriminalisation models and their impacts based on peer-led research and voices from the grass-roots. Moving from research to practice, leading civil society advocates for alternative models of decriminalisation grounded in peer perspectives and preferences will share progress on their advocacy efforts and explore how this can be scaled up. Additionally, the session will outline why and how people who use drugs should be at the centre of advancing efforts towards full decriminalisation globally as part of the social justice agenda and discuss what resources and partnerships are needed to achieve this goal. The session will draw from examples of peer leadership on harm reduction and the COVID-19 response and their implications for charting a way forward on drug-related policies and programming.
Translations available: French, Russian and Spanish