What is the Civil Observatory on Drug Policy?
The Civil Observatory on Drug Policy is an interdisciplinary research centre and think tank dedicated to promoting drug policy based on objective evidence and respect for civil rights and individual liberty. The Observatory is a non-profit association based in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, Spain. Its core team consists of lawyers, academic researchers, local politicians, professional writers, video producers, photographers and interactive designers.
Why was the Civil Observatory on Drug Policy founded?
Spain is presently at the forefront of new regulatory approaches to cannabis regulation. This brings the Spanish experience under the international spotlight. Despite the global significance of Spain’s experiment with Cannabis Associations, there is an absence of empirical research on their operation. The Observatory is needed to document and provide independent analysis of what is presently taking place in Spain and to conduct and facilitate empirical research so as to enable valuable lessons to be learned by policy makers in Spain and around the world. The Observatory identifies, translates and makes publicly available the legal and scientific reports that are playing a significant role in the regulation and enforcement of drug related issues. It periodically publishes analyses of data obtained.
One of the characteristics of Spanish law is this area is legal uncertainty. One of the key aims of the observatory is to collate and evaluate legal opinions and jurisprudence in this area in order to clarify the state of play for legal professionals, but to also ensure that citizens are better informed of their rights and obligations.
Whereas several countries benefit from the existence of charities and legal organizations to inform citizens of their rights (such as Release in the UK, and Flex Your Rights in the U.S.A) there is an absence of such bodies in Spain. An important task of the Civil Observatory on Drug Policy will be to better inform Spanish citizens of their legal rights during a police encounter and on the law on drug use and supply.
Whereas several countries benefit from the existence of multiple independent NGOs to promote fair and effective drug polices (such as Release, Transform, Drug Policy Alliance) Spain has relatively few. The Civil Observatory on Drug Policy seeks to address this imbalance. It will provide a unique nexus between social movements, academic research and policy making.