Welcome to «Models to follow», a website by Liaison Antiprohibitionniste, more commonly referred to as «La Liaison»
For many years now, La Liaison has been taking a stance against drug prohibition and advocating for a legal framework for drugs, however without putting forward any precise model. Drug policies were all based on an outright ban of drugs, with a hint of tolerance here and there, like the cannabis tolerance policy in the Netherlands since 1976, or diacetylmorphine treatments in Switzerland in the late 1990s.
The 2000s ushered in a new era: (partial) decriminalisation of the use of all drugs in Portugal (2001), legalisation of cannabis in Uruguay (2013), followed by several US states, some of which have legalised recreational use of cannabis (after having legalised medical use). Canada is the latest country to have legalised recreational use of cannabis (2018), and others, like Luxembourg and Germany, are bound to follow soon.
Regarding other drugs like heroin, a noteworthy experiment has been the pilot project TADAM in Liège (diacetylmorphine treatment), which proved to be very positive after 2 years, however without being perpetuated. Also in Liège, the first drug consumption room (DCR) has opened, in utmost illegality in the eyes of Belgian legislation, nonetheless providing the impetus for Brussels to become the second city in our country to establish a harm reduction facility of this kind.
This website was intended to promote an international conference hosted by La Liaison, which should have taken place at first in November 2020, then in May 2021, before finally being cancelled due to the global health crisis. The general topic of this get-together was the various international models that offer an alternative to prohibition: depenalisation, decriminalisation, legalisation, regulation,… all terms that are often confused and mixed up, often without providing much clarity. For many years, La Liaison has been taking a pragmatic stance against the sanctioning of drug use, in favour of more social justice and of the right to health and pleasure. The time has now probably come for our organisation to take a step forward and take a clear position regarding the definition of a model of choice. Maybe it is now time not only to point out why regulating is necessary, but also which model we wish to follow in doing so.
Following the cancellation of the conference, we chose to find alternatives and arrange for different encounters: webinars, interviews, articles, podcasts and public debates, to give voice to invited specialists and researchers, and to people who use drugs, in order to elaborate on the advantages and drawbacks of each model. Drawing on a recurring observation over decades – i.e. the war on drugs (or rather, the war on underprivileged drug users) is a failure – we’ll turn our eyes abroad, where policy makers have chosen to open different avenues, which we will follow or turn away from, or we’ll think up other possibilities still…
We would like to express many thanks to all the speakers who have accepted to go through with this task and to give some of their precious time to make you see and hear other ways of thinking about drug policy. This website (which will be evolving along the way) and most of its content would not have been possible without the generous and competent help of Olivier Taymans (an active member of our organisation and project manager at FEDITO Brussels), the thoughtful proofreading by Laurence Kahn, and the technical support of Alexis Jurdant (communications manager at FEDITO Brussels). We extend our warmest thanks to all people who have actively contributed, in one way or another, to the production of these various contents.
The original conference was international and would have featured simultaneous translation. Most of the alternative contents, however, have been produced in French, and unfortunately we don’t have the resources to translate them all into English. Therefore the English part of this website is much more limited than we would have liked, and we wish to apologise for this inconvenience.
We wish you a pleasant time listening, reading or watching, and we encourage you to share these publications with your circles.
Sarah Fautré, coordinator of Liaison Antiprohibitionniste