Joanne Csete is an Associate Professor of Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, where she directs the programme in health and human rights. Well-conceived drug-control policies could contribute importantly to economic and social development and public health. Unfortunately, the reality of drug policies in most countries is rather that they undermine public health by failing to protect people who use drugs from infectious disease and the risk of a drug overdose. Drug laws and policies that mandate incarceration for minor, non-violent drug offences have profound health costs as the risk of infectious disease in prison is high, and too few prisons offer appropriate health services for people who use drugs. Overly zealous drug-control policies, moreover, have led to enormous human suffering, as many countries have restricted the use of opioids for the relief of pain associated with cancer and other conditions. Protection of the health of communities involved with the production of drug crops such as coca leaf and opium poppy has rarely figured in ‘alternative development’ programmes for these populations. A few countries have shown that intentionally health-focused drug-control policies can lessen some of these harms.
Read the article in open access: Joanne Csete, “More Harm Than Public Health in Drug Policy? A Comment”, in Julia Buxton, Mary Chinery-Hesse and Khalid Tinasti (eds.) (2020) Drug Policies and Development, Conflict and Coexistence, International Development Policy series No.12 (Geneva, Boston: Graduate Institute Publications, Brill-Nijhoff). URL: http://journals.openedition.org/poldev/3988; https://doi.org/10.4000/poldev.3988
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