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Thursday, July 24, 2014

WHO Calls for Drug Decriminalization

In the United States and across the globe, more people are imprisoned for drug offenses than any other crime. In fact, in the U.S. more than 50 percent of prisoners are incarcerated because of drugs. The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging countries to decriminalize personal drug use to reduce incarceration around the world, The Huffington Post reports.

A WHO report on HIV prevention and care, is calling on nations to implement new policies and laws that would decriminalize injection and the use of drugs. I.V. drug use is one of the leading causes of the spread of HIV, decriminalizing the use of needles and syringes would permit needle and syringe programs to distribute clean needles, according to WHO.

The groundbreaking report argues for the legalization of opioid substitution therapy, like methadone and Suboxone for opioid addicts. What’s more, WHO encourages the banning of compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.

WHO is not advocating decriminalizing cultivation, production, and trafficking, according to Dr. Andrew Ball, Senior Advisor on Strategy, Policy and Equity in WHO’s Department of HIV. He told The Huffington Post that the organization only recommends decriminalizing personal drug use.

“The guidelines recommend decriminalization of a range of behaviors of key populations – not just drug use – on public health grounds, so as to improve access to and utilization of health services, to reduce the likelihood of the adoption of riskier behaviors and to reduce incarceration rates,” he said.

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