Governmental and international organizations


Governmental and UN

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime
Established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention, UNODC operates in all regions of the world through an extensive network of field offices. UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. In the Millennium Declaration, Member States also resolved to intensify efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, to redouble the efforts to implement the commitment to counter the world drug problem and to take concerted action against international terrorism.

UNODC publications: World Drug Report 2012
The most extensive report on drug use and drug trafficking throughout the world.

WHO – “Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence”
This neuroscience report is the first attempt by WHO to provide a comprehensive overview of the biological factors related to substance use and dependence by summarizing the vast amount of knowledge gained in the last 20-30 years. The report highlights the current state of knowledge of the mechanisms of action of different types of psychoactive substances, and explains how the use of these substances can lead to the development of dependence syndrome. Though the focus is on brain mechanisms, the report nevertheless addresses the social and environmental factors which influence substance use and dependence. It also deals with neuroscience aspects of interventions and, in particular, the ethical implications of new biological intervention strategies.

International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. It was established in 1968 in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. It had predecessors under the former drug control treaties as far back as the time of the League of Nations.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was established in 1993. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. The EMCDDA exists to provide the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of European drug problems and a solid evidence base to support the drugs debate. Today it offers policymakers the data they need for drawing up informed drug laws and strategies. It also helps professionals and practitioners working in the field pinpoint best practice and new areas of research.

The EMCDDA publishes many informative reports and publications such as:

Harm reduction: evidence, impacts and challenges:

EMCDDA report on Portugal:

Drug policy profile for Portugal:

National Institute on Drug Abuse (USA)
NIDA’s mission is to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction. This charge has two critical components. The first is the strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines. The second is ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to significantly improve prevention and treatment and to inform policy as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.

Office of National Drug Control Policy
The Obama Administration is committed to restoring balance to U.S. drug-control efforts by coordinating an unprecedented government-wide public health and public safety approach to reduce drug use and its consequences. Led by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), this effort includes a renewed emphasis on community-based prevention programs, early intervention programs in healthcare settings, aligning criminal justice policies and public health systems to divert non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, funding scientific research on drug use, and, through the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to substance abuse treatment.

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

Advocacy groups

Global Commission on Drug Policy
The commission was formed to “bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. [It built] on the successful experience of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.”

Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy
Calling the global war on drugs a costly failure, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group of high-profile world leaders which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, is urging the Obama administration and other governments to end “the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others.” The report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, recommends that governments try new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to deny profits to drug cartels.

Beckley Foundation:

The Beckley Foundation has two main aims:

  • to gain recognition that altered states of consciousness – including those produced by certain drugs – can be beneficial as well as hazardous and can be used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
  • to change global drugs policy to reflect a more rational, evidence-based ideology, thereby shifting the emphasis from criminalisation to health.

Recommended Publications:

The Beckley Foundation, Global Cannabis Convention Report
Extended Summary, 2010

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an international organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. Our experience on the front lines of the “war on drugs” has led us to call for a repeal of prohibition and its replacement with a tight system of legalized regulation, which will effectively cripple the violent cartels and street dealers who control the current illegal market.

The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) is a global network of 90 NGOs and professional networks that specialise in issues related to the production and use of controlled drugs. The Consortium aims to promote objective and open debate on the effectiveness, direction and content of drug policies at the national and international level, and supports evidence-based policies that are effective in reducing drug-related harm.


Release is the national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law – providing free and confidential specialist advice to the public and professionals. Release also campaigns for changes to UK drug policy to bring about a fairer and more compassionate legal framework to manage drug use in our society.

Release believes that the present regime for the regulation of drugs will be regarded by future generations as one of the great policy disasters of the modern period. These arrangements result in far too many abuses of human rights, fail to protect individual and public health, erode respect for the law, undermine democracy and generate corruption. The War on Drugs is in fact a recipe for a society at war with itself, and this is what we find when we examine the state of global drug control.

Rather than committing ourselves to the fantasy of a drug-free world—something that never has existed and never will—we should educate and regulate to restrict their negative effects. Whether this happens through a reinterpretation and reconfiguration of the present structure, or requires a more radical overhauling of institutional and juridical arrangements, remains to be seen.


The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the US’ leading organization promoting alternatives to current drug policy that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

TalkingDrugs is a space for sharing stories about drugs

Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform
The War on Drugs has failed. It is time for politicians and the public to press for urgent policy reform. The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform was launched at the House of Lords on 17.11.2011. The aim of the initiative is to bring together : a) countries interested in reform; b) countries who have successfully implemented alternative drug control strategies; and c) the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in order to discuss new evidence and reports, towards the goal of reforming global drug policy, including amendments to the UN Conventions. Improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time. The taboo on debate must end. It is time for reform.

Common Sense for Drug Policy
Common Sense for Drug Policy is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to reforming drug policy and expanding harm reduction. CSDP disseminates factual information and comments on existing laws, policies and practices. CSDP provides advice and assistance to individuals and organizations and facilitates coalition building. CSDP supports syringe exchanges, the expansion of Methadone and Buprenorphine availability and other public health measures to reduce harm to users and restrict the spread of HIV / AIDS and Hepatitis C. CSDP advocates the regulation and control of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and subject to local option. CSDP favors decriminalizing the use of hard drugs and providing them only through prescription. CSDP also advocates clear federal guidelines for the practice of pain management so that physicians need not fear unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny of medical practices.

National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML)
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.

El Colectivo por una Política Integral hacia las Drogas AC
El Colectivo por una Política Integral hacia las Drogas AC es una organización de la sociedad civil dedicada a la investigación, la educación, la acción y la difusión orientadas a transformar la cultura y las políticas de drogas bajo un enfoque de reducción de riesgos, multidisciplinario, integral, basado en evidencia, científico y de respeto a los derechos humanos. (DRCNet) (DRCNet) calls for an end to drug prohibition (e.g. some form of legalization), and its replacement with some sensible framework in which drugs can be regulated and controlled instead.

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