UNITE Drug Policy Desk Annual Report 2021

The first annual report of the UNITE Drug Policy Desk has just been released.  

In 2021, the Drug Policy Desk successfully engaged over 189 parliamentarians and policymaking officials from various countriesin capacity-building workshops, policy roundtables, peer-to-peer discussions, international conferences, and parliamentary hearings. 

Our secretariat would like to thank all partners and organisations who contributed to this year’s activities. The great achievements of 2021 are the result of your continued and strong support to UNITE and our members.  

Operating since January 2021, our Drug Policy Desk aims to support and promote the adoption of evidence-based drug policies aligned with principles of public health and human rights. This initiative is developed in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform (UK) and funded by the Open Society Foundations. 

The list of target countries included Kenya, Zimbabwe, Morocco and Portugal. The activities developed in 2021 sought to promote: 

  • Portugal – Political impact and advocacy for the regulation of cannabis supply for non-medical use. 
  • Morocco – Political impact and advocacy for the regulation of cannabis supply for legal markets and introduction of policies to reduce imprisonment for drug offences. 
  • Kenya - Political impact and advocacy promoting health-based approach to drug policy and alternatives to prison sentences for drug offences. 
  • Zimbabwe – Political impact and advocacy promoting health-based approach to drug policy and alternatives to prison sentences for drug offences. 

Our activities have engaged with local and international campaigns advocating for the implementation of health-based drug policy reforms, strengthening harm reduction services and focusing on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

To date, the Drug Policy Desk has promoted successful interventions, such as: 

  • In Zimbabwe, two official online meetings to discuss the inclusion of harm reduction services in the public health system have been organised. The events gathered more than 100 members of parliament, with CSO representatives and international experts to discuss recommendations for the country.  
  • In Portugal, momentum for cannabis regulation was achieved through the publishing of a joint open letter addressed to the Health Committee and endorsed by 67 key political personalities and experts. 
  • In Morocco, regulation of cannabis supply for medical and industrial use has been approved. Partnerships have been established for the continuation of the country-based work to advance with further reform. 
  • In Kenya, the desk contributed to the ongoing efforts for advancing drug policy reform, establishing partnerships with local networks of parliamentarians and civil society organisations. The initiative has gathered MPs sitting in the SDG Caucus to discuss recommendations for Kenya, and mobilised high-level stakeholders in the promotion of reforms aligned with the SDG agenda. 

For 2022, the Drug Policy Desk will continue to work closely with our members and network of international and local partners to advance the reform agendas in the target countries. 

Read the full report here.

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