5 Organizations Working To Change Drug Policies Worldwide

Many countries around the world have strict laws that forbid the use & sale of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. While these policies are intended to keep people safe, they can sometimes do more harm than good, forcing people to serve long jail sentences for non-violent offenses and making people who are addicted feel like they can't get the help they need without being punished. That's why groups like the ones listed here advocate for common-sense, evidence-based reforms of drug policies. If you feel strongly about this issue, consider lending them your support. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Groups Dedicated To Changing Drug Policies

Name Headquarters Location
Canadian Drug Policy Coalition Vancouver, British Columbia
United Patients Alliance Brighton, Sussex
Global Commission on Drug Policy Geneva, Switzerland
United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs The United Kingdom
DFW NORML Arlington, Texas

Is Marijuana The Same Thing As Cannabis?

According to the NIH, people often use the words “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing. The word “cannabis” refers to all products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa, which contains about 540 chemical substances. The word “marijuana” refers to parts of or products from the plant Cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the substance that is primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person's mental state. Some cannabis plants contain more THC than others.

Why We Need To End The War On Drugs

Ideas For Policy Reform

From the Johns Hopkins – Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health

  • Decriminalisation
  • Reducing violence and discrimination in drug policing
  • Improving research
  • Prioritizing treatment & care for people who use drugs
  • Reducing harm associated with drug use
  • Ensuring access to controlled medicines
  • Scientific approach to regulated markets

Should Britain Legalise Drugs?

In Depth

Despite decades of raids and arrests by law enforcement, use of illegal drugs remains prevalent around the world, and many regions face an epidemic of addiction and overdose. A growing number of voices have begun to call for different ways of dealing with this problem, focusing on public health and safety rather than prohibition. In no particular order, here are five groups seeking reform of drug laws.

Starting us off at #1 is the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, an alliance of concerned individuals and non-profit organizations, seeking reform of their nation's approach to substance abuse treatment and enforcement. The group advocates against prohibition-centered policies, arguing in favor of decriminalization and harm reduction. Their Regulation Project puts forward a vision for public safety laws to manage the supply of psychoactive drugs rather than driving it underground.

CDPC spreads awareness of alternatives to the drug war, promoting programs like supervised consumption facilities to stop HIV infection and overdoses, or safe supply measures to prevent contamination. The organization develops tools for engaging with the public on drug regulation, and their publications make the case for laws focused on health rather than punishment. Interested individuals can help by donating, and organizations can join as coalition members.

Interested individuals can help by donating, and organizations can join as coalition members.

Next on the list at #2 is United Patients Alliance, a support and advocacy group led by medical cannabis users in the United Kingdom. They lobby for decriminalization of marijuana and cannabinoids, providing information about the medicinal benefits of these substances, and building public support for ending prohibition. The group also conducts surveys to inform policy recommendations, and helps educate voters about where politicians stand on this issue.

The Alliance shares stories from patients who use cannabis to relieve their symptoms, provides information about the drug's effects, and organizes educational events such as medical cannabis masterclasses. The group also helped to launch Project Twenty21, a research effort working to acquire further evidence for the benefits of this treatment method. Supporters can contribute to the group's mission as donors or volunteers.

Entry #3 is the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group of leaders from around the world uniting to push for reform of laws on psychoactive substance use. Promoting a health-based strategy over prohibition and enforcement, this organization produces reports detailing the harms caused by repressive regulations, and works to raise awareness about alternative approaches.

Promoting a health-based strategy over prohibition and enforcement, this organization produces reports detailing the harms caused by repressive regulations, and works to raise awareness about alternative approaches.

Members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy collaborate on strategies to end the enforcement-centered paradigm, and advocate for change through international forums like the United Nations. They also contribute opinion pieces and interviews in publications around the world, presenting arguments against aggressive prohibition. And their position papers propose alternate methods to combat the drug crisis.

Up next at #4 is United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs, a British organization that aims to end the criminal black market in marijuana, replacing it with a grassroots community of responsible users and home growers. The group's local chapters organize social events and advocacy campaigns, working to end the stigmatization of drug users, and to promote decriminalization of medicinal and recreational use.

The group provides guides to those interested in forming a local club, and shares news and information on topics ranging from growing tips to comparisons of different methods of ingestion. The organization publishes articles discussing the state of cannabis policy in the UK, and urging voters to call for change. Those looking to contribute can become supporter members or purchase merchandise from the online store.

Those looking to contribute can become supporter members or purchase merchandise from the online store.

We'll close with #5, D.F.W. NORML, the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This nonprofit group advocates for an end to cannabis prohibition, demanding change from the Texas legislature, and working to increase acceptance of responsible adult use of the plant. With events like the annual Dallas Marijuana March, they help to demonstrate public support for legalization.

Along with demonstrations, the group organizes social gatherings such as the Lake and Bake outdoor festival and the Yoga in the Park meetup. The organization helps area residents find legal counsel, and shares news about efforts, both in Texas and around the country, to legalize marijuana use. Supporters can help out by becoming members, or purchasing goods or apparel.