The shortcomings and side effects of substance scheduling

Side Event at the 65th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) 14-18 March 2022
Thursday, March 17, 2022

cnd side event schedulingSubstance scheduling is a central function of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and a longstanding pillar of international and national drug policies. Despite the continued reliance on scheduling, there is an ongoing debate as to whether scheduling substances is beneficial or determinantal in preventing drug-related harms. The observed displacement/replacement effect indicates that the scheduling of substances and resulting law enforcement involvement is routinely followed by the emergence of new substances often posing greater harms from consumption, as has been observed in the case of the steadily increasing rate of overdoses around the world caused by highly potent opioids in the unregulated drug market.

Scheduling substances also impedes access for medical and scientific purposes. This side event will examine the limitations and consequences of substance scheduling as well as consider alternatives for preventing drug-related harms. If the system is to be reformed, it will require political will. This begins with an acknowledgement that the system as it currently exists is not fit for purpose.


  • Martin Jelsma, Transnational Institute (TNI)
  • Nazlee Maghsoudi, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE)
  • Maria-Goretti Loglo, International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
  • Wim Best, independent expert


  • Steve Rolles, Transform

Organised by the HIV Legal Network with the support of Canada, the Netherlands, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and the Transnational Institute (TNI).

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