Rethinking prohibition: towards an effective response to drugs in South Africa

2020-11-13

South Africa’s prohibitionist and punitive response to people who cultivate, sell and use drugs has failed to reduce the supply, demand or harms related to the use and trade in scheduled drugs. This report explores the universal costs and consequences of prohibition before providing a global contextualisation of current drug policy debates. It then outlines the historical context of drug policy in South Africa and suggests what might be done differently in the present and future to reduce the burden of drugs and drug policy in the country.

About the authors

Shaun Shelly is the Drug Policy Lead at TB HIV Care, where he founded the South African Drug Policy Week. He has a research post at the University of Pretoria, Department of Family Medicine. Shaun is a founding member and Chair of SANPUD, serves on the Strategic Board of the Love Alliance and is Co-Chair of the SANAC technical working group on people who use drugs. He is a former Deputy Secretary of the United Nations VNGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs, and holds positions on several advisory boards, locally and internationally.

Romi Sigsworth is a Research Consultant with the Complex Threats in Africa programme of the ISS. Prior to this, she was the gender specialist at the ISS and a Senior Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. She has an MSt in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford.

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