Jamaican elected chair of International Drug Policy Consortium
Vicki Hanson

Jamaican, Vicki Hanson, has been elected chair of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).

Hanson was elected to the post at a meeting of the IDPC in the Netherlands on Thursday, July 14.

She takes over from Donald McPherson, a Canadian who held the post for three years.

“I am elated to serve as chair of the board. It is a position that I will use to lobby for change as it relates to ganja and drug policy both in the international space and on the domestic front,” Hanson said.

“This also means that Jamaican organisations dealing with drug policies ,for example,the Ganja Growers and Producers Association of Jamaica (GGPAJ) and other Caribbean organisations will have a prominent voice at the international level when lobbying UN organisations such as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs,” added Hanson

According to Hanson, one of the first activations in her new role will be launching the ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ campaign in the Caribbean to support harm reduction strategies and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights.

“There is still a lot of stigma around people who use ganja. It is not like wine where people openly talk about which wine they drink. Ganja is frowned upon, particularly in the workplace, we still see people’s past ganja offenses being used against them as it relates to employment. This is astigma that despite legislative changes, still lingers,” Hanson said.

“Campaigns like ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ aim to reduce the health and social harms associated with substance use, without necessarily requiring people who use substances to abstain from doing so. They also serve to create public awareness around drug use by creating a more supportive environment, in which we can ultimately end the stigma which is a major barrier to a healthier society,” Hanson added.

Hanson also used the occasion to note that, during her tenure, the IDPC will be more visible in the Caribbean region.

The IDPC is a global network of nearly 200 non-governmental organisations that promote person-centred, rights-reinforcing drug policies at the national, regional and international levels.

The IDPC was founded in 2006 and, since 2011, has been an independent, not-for-profit organisation legally registered in the UK, with offices in Bangkok and London.

DENIECA BROWN , Observer Online writer

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