Tag Archives: drug policy

A Turning Tide and Shifting Sands: A Caribbean Voice In The Drug Reform Debate At Last?


The Caribbean may be about to wake up to the fact that they have been missing the boat on a major new trend in their region – the rejection of failed U.S.-led anti-drug policies. So often lumped with South America in the “Latin America and the Caribbean” (LAC) grouping, the Caribbean has been in many respects, including this one – the debate surrounding what policies to pursue with respect to drugs, and marijuana in particular – clearly out of step with its counterparts.

This post began its life as an article about the Caribbean’s silence on the question of drug policy reform, in contrast to their Latin American neighbors’ more outspoken approach – a silence which is all the more surprising since the Caribbean continues to suffer greatly from the legacy of drug prohibition and its side effects, and as long as drugs are illegal, stands to become a more popular route for drug flows at any time that enforcement efforts in other places encourage traffickers to move their drugs through other routes, with all the attendants symptoms of a rise in drug trafficking for other social ills.

The region has already experienced an explosion of violent crime in recent years, and projections show that almost double the drugs were trafficked through the region in 2012 than in 2011, as cartels seeking to avoid a clampdown elsewhere take advantage of the region’s economic problems to re-establish the islands as a route into the U.S. Continue reading

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To Call Or Not To Call


You are at a house party of a friend, of a friend, of a friend.  It has been a crazy night, and you go upstairs to take a break and wash your face in the sink.  When you open the door to the restroom, you find a person who is overdosing. What do you do? Do you call 911?

According to the CDC, “deaths from drug overdose have been rising steadily over the past two decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States”.  Many of these deaths could be prevented if people could receive timely medical attention.  However, the fear of police involvement and potential arrest or prosecution, stops many people that witness an OD to call 911.

I just moved to Washington, D.C. to work with an organization called HIPS, which works from a harm reduction approach to promote healthier behaviors in individuals that engage in sex work and drug use.  Just last week, I learned about a new law that was passed in DC this year.  A representative of the Drug Policy Alliance came to the office to speak about the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law.  Any Good Samaritan Law aims to protect those who offer assistance to people who are injured or in danger of peril, from arrest or prosecution from “wrongdoing”.  In this particular case, if you witness an OD and report it to 911, this law protects you from being arrested or prosecuted for drug possession.  New Mexico was the first state to pass a Good Samaritan law, in 2007, and today, a total of fourteen states plus DC have passed it so far.  The law protects “only the caller and overdose victim from arrest and/or prosecution for simple drug possession, possession of paraphernalia, and/or being under the influence”. Continue reading

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