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Brazil minister claims state ‘never waged drug war’ amid rising imprisonment

Brazil minister claims state ‘never waged drug war’ amid rising imprisonment

A Brazilian minister has called for an intensification of the War on Drugs, arguing that harsher punishments will reduce drug use. Earlier this week, Osmar Terra – who was appointed Minister of Social Development in May 2016 – claimed in a conversation with O Globo that Brazil has “never seriously waged a war on drugs”.

A man is searched by police on the second night of carnival in Salvador, Brazil, in February 2012.
Photo credit: © Mario Tama/Getty

How Brazil’s Drug War Became a Crusade Against People of Color

In Brazil’s old colonial capital of Salvador de Bahia, February means Carnaval, a six-day Dionysian celebration often called the biggest street party in the world. But behind the merriment hides a striking example of Brazil’s endemic structural racism. Though Salvador’s population is 80 percent black, the carnavaleros dancing down the cordoned-off avenues are mostly white,

Colombia begins dismantling the drug war with marijuana legislation

On Tuesday December 22nd, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a bill to legalise medical marijuana. The legislation allows the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical purposes; members of the public may grow their own marijuana if they acquire a license from the National Narcotics Council. Marijuana can be effectively used to treat a

Drug cartels, the product of prohibition, continue to threaten Latin American security

All Too Familiar with the War on Drugs, Latin America Offers Advice to Africa

A reverend from Kenya, a doctor from Senegal, a psychiatrist from Tanzania, and a pharmacist from Malawi sip a cup of coca tea and munch on coca leaf cookies. This was the scene at the recent South–South Drug Policy Exchange in Bogota, a gathering of African and Latin American officials and civil society representatives to

Photo credit: © Center for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship

An Anti–Drug War Ad Campaign Vanishes in Brazil

In Latin America, the continent that has suffered the brunt of the U.S.-led war on drugs, an emerging international reform movement contends that prohibition has failed to create safe, just, and healthy communities. As a recent New York Times article highlighted, governments across the region—in particular Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Uruguay—have begun to push back

Johann Hari's new book, Chasing The Scream

Interview: Johann Hari, Author of Chasing The Scream

Johann Hari, journalist and writer, has spent the past three years travelling the world to discover the origins, uncover the secrets, and debunk the myths, of the War on Drugs. Along the way, he encountered a host of fascinating individuals – from drug policy reformists, to cartel gangsters, to police chiefs, to addicts – and

Michael Botticelli, the new US drugs czar

Will the United States Lead or Follow on International Drug Reform?

More than three years ago, the Global Commission on Drug Policy urged the world to recognize that the war on drugs has failed and to consider policies that would reduce violence, decrease mass incarceration, and promote health. Since then, sitting presidents and premiers, mainly from Latin America, have called for a review of the entire

WHO Flag

The Importance of the WHO’s Call for Drug Decriminalisation

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for the decriminalisation of drug use. This is one of the most significant developments in drug policy reform, as the United Nations – the WHO’s parent organisation – was responsible for creating the international laws that form the basis of global drug prohibition. In 1961, the UN

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