Youth RISE once again participated in the Support. Don’t Punish. Global Day of Action on the 26th of June. The event, held annually unites groups in over 200 cities across the world to demand an end to punitive punishments for people who use drugs, a move towards health-led approaches to drug policy and an end to the war on drugs. Youth RISE members were involved in activities in Ireland, Lithuania, Mexico and South Africa, where they highlighted the issues facing young people who use drugs and the need for effective harm reduction strategies.
“Young Wave”, organized a media campaign providing facts to stimulate discussion about Harm Reduction in their native Lithuania. The campaign involved three pictures and three separate social media posts. The posts will outline the situation regarding the weakness of harm reduction services in the country, the low coverage on OST programs, and the lack of funding being put in place for harm reduction in relation to the cost of incarcerating people who use drugs.
In Cape Town, South Africa, numerous organizations came together in support of harm reduction strategies and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. Youth RISE collaborated with the Western Cape Substance Service Sector Forum (WCSSSF) in hosting an award ceremony to acknowledge the progress being made by people in recovery. The event also included youth testimonies, as well as presentations from key stakeholders and government representatives. The focus of the event was to show the vital work being done in the harm reduction sector and the need to promote the message of the Support. Don’t Punish. campaign.
In Ireland, two events took place, one in Dublin and one in Cork. In both instances key stakeholders were invited to participate in a small demo, while creating opportunities for future collaborations. In Cork, speeches were made and a small concert took place with one of the organizers singing an original song of his. In Dublin, the event took place at the main park and shopping area, where participants were invited to distribute leaflets discussing the need for decriminalisation and drug checking facilities in the country.
The event also fell on the same day as a major announcement, as the advancement of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme was announced, meaning medical cannabis will be available to people with a small number of conditions by the end of the year. While the progress is positive, the programme remains restrictive and is indicative of the slow nature of progress being made on the island.
A number of different events took place across Mexico to mark the day. In Mexico City a youth discussion for sensible drug policy took place in collaboration with the Institute of Legislative Investigation, Agora Foundation and Instituto RIA at the Auditorio Nacional Benito Juarez. In Queretaro and event titled Use of Psychedelic Substances, Institutional Perspectives and Non-Punitive Alternatives took place, organized by SSDP Mexico, with speakers from SSDP and Municipal Institute for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination.
Events also took place in Aguascalientes and Ciudad Juarez to raise awareness of the fact that drug policies in Mexico contribute towards drug related violence, corruption and stigma against people who use drugs. The events hope to bring greater awareness to the need for social and legislative changes in Mexico, since punitive and criminally focused policies have led to huge amounts of violence throughout the country, an issue that continues to affect our youth population.