The European Union continues to register deep divisions in drug policy. On the one hand there’s Portugal, scion of the progressive movement, a country that offers treatment over incarceration for small amounts of possession. And on the other hand there’s Hungary, where years of progressive organizing around drug issues may have just evaporated, returning instead to the bete noire of prohibition.
Hungary’s anti-prohibitionist drug reformers and harm reductionists need the help of SSDP’s members. Why? and How?
The how’s the easy part, at least if you have a computer. Just sign this petition composed by non-governmental organizations to the Hungarian government urging them to retain evidence-based drug policy.
The petition is urgent. Just as the Hungarian Government took over the presidency of the European Union in 2011, it decided to engage in some major revisions to a drug policy program convened and produced by its predecessor, which it removed from office in elections held in April 2010. Many of these changes by the new government actually conflict with stated policies of the European Union they are meant to be heading. According to Drug Reporter, the news service of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the current Hungarian Government has turned its back on harm reduction and human rights, perhaps to save money in a tight fiscal year. The government abolished the National Drug Prevention Institute, fired the national drug coordinator, and stripped the drugs budget. It’s plaint? That the policy was too focused on “drug liberalization and harm reduction.” Or, in no uncertain terms, evidence-based practices needed to go.
The actions against scientific policy have struck a blow against Hungary’s drug reformers in non-governmental organizations. The previous government had opened up a broad consultative process for empirical drug policy and practices. It included all the major national and international actors whose opinion was sought on how best to prevent or treat addiction. The consultation process produced an eight year policy document for 2010 – 2018. And even though at one point the current government signaled its intention to keep the policy moving forward, by December 2010 it produced the current crisis by axing the stated policy. In the text of the petition, the NGO’s denounce the changes on the basis of the harm they will cause:
We emphasize that the lack of an effectively operating drug strategy with adequate financial resources and professional support undermines prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and harm reduction services – as a consequence harms can be measured not only in money but in human lives .
Now, you can take action by signing the petition to keep science in Hungary’s drug policy, here.