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WHO Urges Countries to Decriminalize Personal Drug Use to Reduce Incarceration

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging countries to decriminalize personal drug use, in order to reduce incarceration, The Huffington Post reports.

In a report on HIV prevention and care, WHO called on nations to work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs. Countries should decriminalize the use of clean needles and syringes, and permit needle and syringe programs, WHO stated. The organization supports policies that legalize opioid substitution therapy for people who are opioid-dependent.

WHO also urged countries to ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.

Dr. Andrew Ball, Senior Advisor on Strategy, Policy and Equity in WHO’s Department of HIV, told The Huffington Post the organization recommends decriminalizing personal drug use, not drug cultivation, production and trafficking. He said WHO is not calling for the legalization of drugs worldwide.

“The guidelines recommend decriminalization of a range of behaviors of key populations – not just drug use – on public health grounds, so as to improve access to and utilization of health services, to reduce the likelihood of the adoption of riskier behaviors and to reduce incarceration rates,” he said.

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