Drug Policy Project

The Drug Policy Project combines scholarship with activism to transform drug control policy both at home and abroad. The Project works with grassroots entities, media, and policy makers to shift away from the drug “war” paradigm and its disastrous impacts on the environment, toward holistic policies that address public health, safety and economic alternatives to the prohibition drug economy.

The intersection of race and poverty in the drug war is at the heart of the project’s work. The project has focused recently on the attendant “collateral damage” caused by the United States exporting its drug war to Colombia and Afghanistan, peace efforts in Colombia, drug war-related politics in the Philippines, and border politics between the U.S. and Mexico. Establishing humane and sustainable alternatives to the “drug war” paradigm fits into the IPS mandate as a major contemporary social justice issue on a global scale.

Latest Work

drug-trafficking

The War on Drugs Breeds Crafty Traffickers

By making drugs ever more valuable, increasingly punitive prohibition policies have only amplified the motivational feedback loop of the very people lawmakers are trying to stop.
trump-wall-more-opioid-overdoses

VIDEO: Trump's Wall Would Make the Opioid Crisis Worse

The president says his signature border policy would stop drugs. Instead, it would lead to more deadly adulterants and overdoses.
poverty-war-on-drugs-philippines

VIDEO: Trump Is All in on the Philippine Drug War

Trump has lavished praised on Duterte's extrajudicial murders — and Duterte's envoy to the U.S. is developing a little project called Trump Tower Manila.
poverty-war-on-drugs-philippines

One Year Into Duterte's Bloody Regime

There are countless reasons why President Duterte’s Drug War isn’t helping Philippine society—and a $140 million reason President Trump might be willing to look the other way.
Getting Over the Wall

How Drugs Will Get Under, Over, and Around Trump's Wall

A wall may be a powerful symbol, but it won't be a useful tool in the war on drugs, Sanho Tree explains in an interview with Vice.
drug-war-trafficking

How the War on Drugs Has Made Drug Traffickers More Ruthless and Efficient

In this interview with Vox, IPS drug policy expert Sanho Tree explains how evolution could have predicted the failure of the war on drugs.

A Border Wall Basically Sets an XPRIZE for Criminals to Penetrate Our Border

No matter how tall or deep Trump's wall is, it will not stop the flow of drugs or traffickers into the U.S., in fact it will heighten the national security risk.

Trump's Border Wall Won't Solve Our Heroin Crisis

Prohibition breeds heroin substitutes that are often more dangerous and more difficult to stop, Tree tells CCTV.

Duterte's Extrajudicial Killings Will Only Make the Philippines' Drug Problem Worse

Ramping up the risk premium through harsher tactics only makes drug trafficking more profitable, IPS drug policy expert Sanho Tree told CCTV.
coca-tea-food-drugs

The False Dichotomy Between Food and Drugs

Western civilization's arbitrary categorization of drugs into UN treaties flies in the face of thousands of years of traditional medicine, Sanho Tree tells Free Culture Radio.

Free Trade Agreements Have Exacerbated a Humanitarian Crisis in Central America

Proposals like the Alliance for Prosperity Plan and the Trans-Pacific Partnership will only accelerate a race to the bottom for families in the Northern triangle of Latin America, Manuel Perez-Rocha said at the AFL-CIO conference on U.S. trade policy.

The Global Consensus on Drugs is "Shattered"

Drug policy expert Sanho Tree tells CCTV that two different worlds are developing. While the Americas are moving towards legalization, other countries are clamping down harder on drug laws.

How the U.S.-Led War on Drugs Ravaged Central America

IPS drug policy expert Sanho Tree says strategies to address underlying drivers, including inequality and systemic lack of opportunities in Central America, is key to developing alternatives to the war on drugs.
[VIDEO] Peru’s Cocaine War: Traffickers vs. Farmers

What's Being Done to End the War on Drugs? Live Chat Recap.

IPS' drug policy expert answers questions about the drug war in a live chat in New Zealand
Sanho Tree talks about drug policy.

How America's War On Drugs Unintentionally Aids Mexican Drug Cartels

U.S. drug policy has been an "excerise in futility"
Uruguay’s Legalization of Marijuana

Uruguay's Legalization of Marijuana

CCTV interviews Sanho Tree, drug policy expert, on Uruguay's "historic and counterintuitive" decision to be the first country in the world to legalize the production and sale of marijuana.
What Not to Do on Camera

What Not to Do on Camera

Romney's words may have left us with the impression of a debate win, but he failed to restrain his signature off-putting smirks.
What Drives U.S. Policy in Central America?

What Drives U.S. Policy in Central America?

On Al-Jazeera's Inside Story roundtable discussion, IPSer Sanho Tree discusses how the U.S. State Department gets to play judge, jury, and executioner in Honduras.
Is Now the Time for Countries to Legalize Street Drugs?

Is Now the Time for Countries to Legalize Street Drugs?

In the last edition of the Latin American Advisor, Sanho Tree lent his opinion to the ongoing hemispheric debate over drug legalization.
[VIDEO] Peru’s Cocaine War: Traffickers vs. Farmers

[VIDEO] Peru's Cocaine War: Traffickers vs. Farmers

The government of Peru is getting tough on traffickers and encouraging farmers to plant alternative crops, but will it work?

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In the News

The Border-Wall Prototypes Are Up—Now What?

The Atlantic | October 26, 2017

Catapults Do Hurl Drugs Over Border. People Hit in Head? Doubtful.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | September 28, 2017

What Happens When the DEA Makes Mistakes

Wisconsin Public Radio | June 20, 2017