Explore the Alternatives

Click the image to the right to view the Count the Costs options and alternatives briefing.

For over 50 years the punitive enforcement model of the war on drugs has dominated drug policy. As detailed elsewhere on this site, this approach has failed to achieve its stated goals, instead generating huge costs in terms of undermining public health and human rights, creating crime, fuelling stigma and discrimination, damaging the environment, and creating obstacles to development and security – all at a huge financial cost. Even a cursory evaluation of the past 50 years demonstrates a meaningful exploration of alternative policy approaches is not only rational, but an urgent necessity.

There are a range of alternative policy models available from increasingly punitive "zero-tolerance" enforcement, through various harm reduction strategies and options for decriminalisation of possession and use, to models for legal regulation of drug production and supply. Whilst some of these have been explored, others remain largely speculative, but clearly different policy models will be needed to address the challenges of different drugs, populations and environments.

The Count the Costs project is not prescriptive about which approach, or combination of approaches, will work best in any given scenario. Rather, as a group of individuals and NGOs with shared concerns around the failings of the war on drugs, we are seeking to encourage a meaningful exploration of the options, informed by the best possible evidence and analysis. This section of the website is a collection of resources that can help inform that process by outlining the options and supporting evidence.

Suggestions for resources to build up this collection are very much welcomed.