The Drug Problem in the Americas: Scenarios for the Future

Scenarios for the drug problem

In 2013, the Organization of American States appointed various international experts to review the current situation and outline future solutions to the drug problem in the Americas. The Analytical Report and the Scenarios for the Drug Problem in the Americas 2013-2025 are the two main components of this work. Both reports, which were extensively discussed during the RIOD Seminar in Uruguay, exhibit a great openness to a dialogue on current policies and a willingness to explore nontraditional approaches to the subject. 

The Analytical Report explores the reasons that led society to concern itself with the use of certain substances and to decide to control them and the consequences of such decision in triggering illicit economic activities. The report also details how controlled substances are cultivated, produced, distributed and sold in the Americas, in which quantity and for what consequences

The Scenarios document breaks a taboo by evoking legal regulation models for certain drugs, as a possible breakthrough to the current impasse. This substantive piece of work is grounded on an observation upon which no one is casting doubt anymore: after 40 years and more than 10 billion dollars spent in the USA only, the so-called "War on Drugs" launched by President Nixon is an utter failure.

The document presents four different scenarios reflecting an emerging consensus in Latin America. The first three scenarios – Together, Pathways and Resilience – evoke a change of tack from repressive approaches to a comprehensive policy which promotes public health and people's safety, experiencing the regulation of certain drugs and reinforcing the resilience of communities. The fourth scenario, Disruption, evokes the threat of rising narco-states.  

These scenarios should neither be taken as forecasts nor policy recommendations. They are stories about what could happen in the future – not what will happen or what should happen, but what could happen over the coming years in and around the hemispheric drug system, based on current trends and including relevant political, economic, social, cultural and international dynamics. The purpose of these scenarios is to provide a common framework and language to support dialogue, debate, and decision-making among Heads of States and other actors.