Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drug Reform in Rio: The Second Latin American Drug Policy Conference

Latin America continues to be a vibrant place for government officials, anti-drug war activists, and drug reform professionals. At the beginning of August, Mexican president Felipe Calderon and his immediate predecessor Vicente Fox, showed their willingness to debate, if not support outright and immediately, the legalization of marijuana. Now a gathering in Rio will further the debate.

At next week's end, Latin America's committed drug policy professionals, brought together by conference organizers Psicotropicus of Brazil and Intercambios of Argentina, will burnish the region's repuation for tackling the excesses of the drug war. Across two session-packed days on 26 and 27 August, parties from across the Americas -- including SSDP Colombia and SSDP USA -- will discuss reining in the drug war at the Law Faculty at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It's the second such conference of its kind, and it builds on a decade of similar conferences held in Argentina. And, of course, within that timespan Argentina has decriminalized small quantities of drugs.

The program opens with addresses from Brazil's Ministries of Justice, Health, Human Rights, and Secretary of Drug Policy. (By the way, it's impossible to think of a conference in the U.S. which manages to bring government representatives together with non-profit groups and other reform-minded advocates.)

The two days of events include the following panels:

Human Rights and Drug Policy

Drug Users in the Agenda of Multilateral Organizations

Social Health Policies

Structural Determinants of Problems Associated with

Holistic Attention to Drug Users

Consequences of the War against Drugs

Legislative Reforms in Latin America

There is also plenty of time built into the schedule to network with other activists, and reach out to future partners. SSDP's delighted that a representative of our newest international chapter, SSDP Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota will be in attendance, meaning that the student presence at such meetings continues to be welcomed and celebrated.

We'll be blogging about the conference after its dust has settled, so to speak.

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