Public policy proposals for regulating drugs and reducing risk and harm: Options and strategies

Bernardo González-Aréchiga, José Antonio Caballero, Alejandro Madrazo, David Pérez Esparza , Ana Sanchez Santana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One century after the first international drug convention, and 50 years after the first UN Convention on drug control, the international community is questioning the currently dominant approach of drug control. It has not averted drug use or reduced production and illegal trafficking of drugs. If anything, emerging evidence tells us that prohibition seems to have caused more harm than good. An example of the undeniable negative result, in terms of costs and benefits, is the case of Mexico. Mexico's drug policy faces problems and criticisms similar to those of the international model. There seems to be a serious problem in the diagnosis of the health issues that drugs represent in Mexican society as well as a failure to meet the government's explicit goals. Alternatives need to be sought, and, in particular, the problems of fueling organized crime and violence and the disparate distribution of costs between producer, transit, and consumer countries need to be addressed. This text looks beyond a system that focuses only on the supply side of the drug market and on the persecution and criminal sanctions for all involved in the production to consumption chain in order to propose a more efficient and feasible set of policies. The core of the solution proposed is the gradual construction of market regulation, moving away from prohibition to a much wider spectrum of possible government actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-182
JournalLatin American Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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