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Frontiers & Resistance in Drug Policy Reform

Panel Discussion
The CEU Campus
Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 6:00 pm

Over the past 10 years, efforts to modernize and reform drug policies have seen a number of key advances such as: more focus on public health as opposed to criminal justice approaches to substance use, cannabis regulation and decriminalization in some countries, greater integration of human rights oversight into drug control, and new research that suggest powerful therapeutic potential for psychedelics. At the same time, in other parts of the world, we've seen strong resistance to reform, continued human rights abuses in the name of drug control, and the use of drug law enforcement as a tool of repression. New global trends are emerging such as increased fentanyl overdoses, more availability of novel psychoactive substances, and expanded use of dark-net drug markets. This wide ranging panel will explore different sides of this fragmented moment. Why are some states experimenting with new approaches while others are so resistant? How are activists and concerned policy-makers responding in order to advance reform and resist punitive overreach? Where has the drug policy reform movement come from and where is it going?


Donald MacPherson is the founding Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalitions and one of Canada’s leading figures in drug policy. In 2000 he authored Vancouver’s groundbreaking Four Pillars Drug Strategy that precipitated a broad public discussion on issues related to addiction, harm reduction and a public health approach to psychoactive substances.

Agnieszka Sieniawska has be Chairperson of the Polish Drug Policy Network since 2011 and is an alumni of the Faculty of Law and Administration at the University of Warsaw. Since 2009, she has provided legal aid to individuals charged with drug law violations, led activities aimed at amending national drug laws and authored two reports describing the legal situation of drug users in Poland.

Benjamin De Loenen is the founding Executive Director of the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS) based in Barcelona. He completed a M.A. in audiovisual media and communications in The Netherlands, where he graduated with honors for his documentary “Ibogaine-Rite of Passage” (2004), a film that remains an important reference on this subject matter. Since this achievement, Benjamin has been dedicated to making ayahuasca, iboga and other psychedelic plant practices valued and integrated parts of society.

Julie Hannah is Co-Director of the International Centre for Human Rights and Drug Policy at the University of Essex, responsible for the substantive oversight, strategic direction and the daily implementation of all the Centre’s activities. Since 2015, Ms Hannah also advises the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dr. Dainius Puras, on the thematic streams of his mandate from the University of Essex.

Ma. Inez Feria is the founding Director of the Philippines based NoBox Transitions Foundation where she oversees treatment support services and drug policy reform advocacy rooted in the philosophy of harm reduction.

Matt Wilson, Deputy Director of the Global Drug Policy Program at OSF will moderate this discussion.