Alternative Development programmes, aimed at encouraging peasants to switch from growing illicit drugs-related crops, play an important role in UN drug control strategies. The record of success, however, is a questionable one. Decades of efforts to reduce global drug supply using a combination of developmental and repressive means, managed to shift production from one country to another, but have failed in terms of global impact. TNI argues for delinking alternative development from the threat of forced eradication and law enforcement and guaranteeing peasants the support required for a sustainable alternative future.

  • Position Paper of the Fair Trade Cannabis Working Group in the Caribbean

    The Position Paper "For inclusive business models, well designed laws and fair(er) trade options for small-scale traditional cannabis farmers” produced by The Fair(er) Trade Cannabis Working Group aims to contribute to the debate on finding sustainable and realistic solutions to the challenges posed by the developing cannabis industry, with a special focus on traditional and small scale farmers.

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  • A World with Drugs: Legal Regulation through a Development Lens

    Webinar Series

    Drugs are a development issue. Let’s stop pretending that they’re not. The so-called ‘war on drugs’ has been undermining progress towards development goals for decades. It has fuelled violence and conflict, undermined democracy, and driven poverty, inequality and poor health worldwide. The shift towards the legal regulation of drugs provides a chance to repair the harms of the past – and create a fairer, more just world for the future. Now is the time to build a new approach to drugs that prioritises, promotes and protects health and well-being, helps address poverty and inequality, and contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Join us for this ground-breaking 8-part webinar series

  • Cannabis Regulation and Development

    Fair(er) Trade Options for Emerging Legal Markets
    David Bewley-Taylor, Martin Jelsma, and Sylvia Kay
    Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and Coexistence
    12th volume of International Development Policy, August 2020

    Significant policy shifts have led to an unprecedented boom in medical cannabis markets, while a growing number of countries are moving towards the legal regulation of adult non-medical use. This trend is likely to bring a range of benefits. Yet there are growing concerns over the many for-profit cannabis companies from the global North that are aggressively competing to capture the licit spaces now opening in the multibillion-dollar global cannabis market. This threatens to push small-scale traditional farmers from the global South out of the emerging legal markets.

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  • Fair(er) Trade Options for the Cannabis Market

    Martin Jelsma, Sylvia Kay & David Bewley-Taylor
    Cannabis Innovate
    Policy Report 1, March 2019

    Policy changes over the past five years or so have dramatically reshaped the global cannabis market. Not only has there been an unprecedented boom in medical markets, but following policy shifts in several jurisdictions a growing number of countries are also preparing for legal regulation of non-medical use. Such moves look set to bring a clear range of benefits in terms of health and human rights. As this groundbreaking Report, highlights, however, there are also serious concerns about the unfolding market dynamics.

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  • Connecting the dots...

    Human rights, illicit cultivation and alternative development
    Martin Jelsma
    Transnational Institue (TN)
    October 2018

    How can we resolve the tensions between current drug control policies and states’ human rights obligations? The international human rights framework clearly establishes that, in the event of conflicts between obligations under the UN Charter and other international agreements, human rights obligations take precedence. As legally regulated cannabis markets start to grow, now is the time to secure a legitimate place for small farmers using alternative development, human rights and fair trade principles.

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  • Aligning Agendas

    Drugs, Sustainable Development, and the Drive for Policy Coherence
    International Expert Group on Drug Policy Metrics
    Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF) & International Peace Institute (IPI)
    February 2018

    In April 2016 the UN General Assembly convened a special session on the world drug problem in order to review and evaluate existing drug control policies and strategies. More specifically, the special session (UNGASS) set out to “review the progress made in the implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action, including an assessment of the achievements and challenges in countering the world drug problem, within the framework of the three international drug control conventions and other relevant United Nations instruments.” The UNGASS 2016 outcome document represents the most recent global consensus on drug policy and signals a shift toward placing public health, development, and human rights at its center.

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  • Why coca leaf, not coffee, may always be Colombia’s favourite cash crop

    One of the least controversial proposals in the FARC peace accords is the idea of crop substitution and alternative development in these regions
    Iban De Rementeria
    The Conversation (US)
    Sunday, March 19, 2017

    Colombia’s current peace process is facing numerous challenges. In a country that has suffered the worst impacts of the international drug war, one main dilemma is this: what to do with rural regions which have specialised in producing coca leaf, the main ingredient in one of the world’s most lucrative products? The uncomfortable truth about international agricultural markets is that only in illicit ones are poor local producers able to sell their product for a price that actually covers the cost of inputs: land, labour and capital. In a globalised world, illegal crops such as coca, cannabis and poppies are poor farmers’ rational response to the ruinously low prices of imported subsidised farm products.

  • Exploring the land-drugs nexus

    Land is one of the key factors of production in the drug economy

    "For many communities in Myanmar who grow opium, for them opium is not the problem, it is the solution to their problems," said local project consultant, Tom Kramer, from the Transnational Institute. And therein lies one of the greatest challenges for policy makers in the fight to eradicate the scourge of drug crops in developing countries. Most drug crop cultivating areas are greatly affected by poverty, physical isolation, landlessness, insecure land rights and conflicts over natural resources. For many poor farmers, the cultivation of drug crops represents a coping mechanism to prevail in difficult environments.

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  • Current State of Counternarcotics Policy and Policy Reform Debates in Myanmar

    Tom Kramer
    Brookings Institute
    April 2015

    This paper explores the current state of counternarcotics policy and policy reform debates in Myanmar. It analyzes the main trends in drug production, trafficking, and consumption, and assesses the key harms and threats these pose to the country. The paper will provide an overview of Myanmar’s current drug policies and related legislative framework, and assess whether these are effective in addressing the drug-related problems in the country.

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  • Conditioning Alternative Development to previous eradication should be abandoned

    As long as the amount of hectares eradicated remains the main indicator for success, sustainable development loses
    Pien Metaal
    Statement at the 58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)
    Thursday, March 12, 2015

    Conditioning Alternative Development (AD) participation to previous eradication should be abandoned as a policy, since it has proved to be counterproductive. As long as the amount of hectares eradicated remains the main indicator for success, sustainable development loses. The voice of the primary stakeholders will be represented in the preparations for UNGASS through the organisation of a Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants. Their participation in the design and implementation of development policies are fundamental.

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