Viewpoints on ‘Drugs, Law Enforcement and Violence’ and 'Supply, control and power’

Call for papers for: Drugs and Alcohol Today

Events in 2020 have been without precedence in living memory and have radically transformed the lives, lifestyles and underlying assumptions of all of us. It is time to take a hard look at how the changes in the policy landscape and the radical social transformations have impacted on our experience and management of drugs (all drugs) and drug issues. To capture these pressing contemporary concerns Drugs and Alcohol Today is inviting the submission of brief research reports (no less than 2,500 words - inclusive of references) and viewpoints for a special collection to be published in the final issue of 2020.

Authors are invited to think around two key topic areas that have radically come into prominence in recent weeks.

‘Drugs, Law Enforcement and Violence’

The misuse of force by the authorities, and fabricated drug charges, has sparked protests across the world following the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers. Historically, too often such abusive actions are directed against members of minorities or other marginalised communities in the name of drug control, Bony Jean-Pierre, Bounmy Ousa, Alberta Sprill, Donald Myrick and many, many, others. All over the world police forces habitually “stop and search” young men under the pretext of enforcing drug legislation. Violence is often involved, and everywhere there is extensive incidence of corruption and political imprisonment under fabricated drug charges. In some countries this is a norm, with drug consumers a ready target for predation by law enforcement.

The violence found in drug markets is one consequence of the heavy-handed policing approach coupled with draconian punishment in a vicious circle. Ingeniously, this has been blamed as a side effect of the drugs themselves and the desperation of ‘addicts’ and used in calls for even greater state-driven violence. In many countries so called ‘drug dealers’ can therefore be killed with impunity, either as a result of a deliberate and well publicised policy, as in the Philippines, or as an unspoken rule. In China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Malaysia the state kills convicted offenders in cold blood for drug related crimes, often on the UNODC coordinated world anti-drugs day.

This ‘collateral damage‘ is routinely ignored by drug prohibition advocates, its victims stripped of their rights and dignity. To mark the events of the year and draw attention to this underreported consequence of drug policy, Drugs and Alcohol Today journal is collecting viewpoints of people with experience of this serious and yet wilfully overlooked crime with suggestions on how to move forward.    

'Supply, control and power'

One of the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the spotlight shone on the fragility of supply chains of essential medicines. This in turn has re-emphasised the arbitrary workings of the global order on drugs, the regulations and schedules, and the domination of international agendas over the majority of the world. While supplementary to the understanding of ‘drugs’ adopted by Drugs and Alcohol Today, the commercial, logistical and political factors amplified by recent mega-phone statements about vaccines and prophylactics also applies to those essential medicines that are controlled by the international Conventions, most importantly for pain management and opioid substitution treatment.

The well-documented gulf in access to essential medicines between countries in the global north and elsewhere reveals, inter alia, the discrepancy in international power and influence. This discrepancy also applies to the formulation of international treaties, as dominant nations determine what is regarded as essential, how it may be used, and, crucially for the non-producer nations, how much can be imported and under what conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of the licit supply chains, even more so when expressions of nationalism are added to the mix.

This pandemic provides a catalyst for rethinking the supply chain in terms of production and distribution of medicines under control of the international Conventions. We would like to learn about how the emergency has been experienced, what lessons can be learnt and how we can move forward.

Submission information

If you are interested in submitting a viewpoint please note following:

Submission deadline: 31st August 2020

Scheduled publication: Issue 4, December 2020

To submit your article please use the Journal’s submission site

Please select ‘Regular issue’ from the drop-down menu to the question “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.

Contributions should be submitted as “research papers”, and in the pop-up menu under this category please select “viewpoint”.

Please also comment in the “letter to editors” section that you are submitting in response to the call for viewpoints. 

Any queries can be directed to the journal’s editorial team:

Axel Klein
Global Drug Observatory, Swansea University
[email protected]

[email protected]

Blaine Stothard
Independent Consultant
[email protected]