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For decades, harsh drug policies have been implemented in the name of the “protection of our youth”, however creating more harms on young people and their communities than the harm related to drug use themselves. Recently, Donald Trump compelled 130 countries to sign a reactionary position statement on global drug policies, calling to “deliver a drug-free future for all of our children.”

Ahead of the High-level session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs that will be held in March 2019, a coalition of youth organizations address the governments of the planet: “We invite you to work with, and not for, the populations your drug control commitments affect the most – young people, people who use drugs, women, indigenous people, people from diverse cultural backgrounds, and other marginalized communities.

A few months ahead of the global summit of March 2019, they have resumed their asks in 3 points:

Ask #1: Model a balanced approach to drugs and drug education

  • Empower young people to properly respond to drugs.
  • Allow and invest in research related to medical benefits of psychoactive substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and MDMA.

Ask #2: Shift drug policies towards public health and human rights based approaches

  • Review and repeal the punitive laws associated with the criminalization of drug use and possession of drugs for personal and medical use.
  • Align supply reduction priorities with those of public health and human rights to create healthy and safe communities.
  • Acknowledge and include harm reduction initiatives in global drug policies and targets.
  • Invest in harm reduction services such as drug checking interventions and early warning systems, needle and syringe provision and supervised injection facilities without age restrictions, educational material about minimizing risks associated with using drugs, and nightlife harm reduction.

Ask #3: Leave no one behind

  • Commit to aligning the UNODC’s approach to addressing the world drug problem with the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Ensure active and meaningful participation of civil society youth and youth-related organizations in the development, implementation, and evaluation of drug policies and drug education programs.
  • Collaborate further with other relevant UN entities for a streamlined, multisectoral approach to drug policy.

Paradigma’ is a global coalition of youth-led organizations working towards establishing evidence-based drug policies that reduce the harms of drug use and are grounded in human rights principles.

The organizations that make up the Paradigma coalition represent thousands of young people in every region of the world that acknowledge the many impacts of drug use, drug markets, and drug control on their communities, but particularly note that punitive drug policies have failed their generation and their society, impeding the development of young people and their full enjoyment of basic human rights.

The Paradigma coalition believes that governments typically justify their drug policies by invoking the need to protect young people – but they believe they can speak for themselves, and if policies are being implemented in their name, their voices must be heard.

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