Julian Buchanan


Julian Buchanan is a qualified social worker, drug worker and academic from Anfield, Liverpool, UK. He has worked in the drug field since the mid 1980s when he helped pioneer a risk reduction drug policy for the Merseyside Probation Service and with the support of Dr John Marks he established the South Sefton Drug Team that provided a comprehensive range of harm reduction services.

Following his move to academia (in England, Wales & New Zealand) he has lectured, researched and published widely on the subject of drug policy and practice, resulting in the publication of over fifty articles, books and book chapters, and invitations to speak at conferences worldwide, including Australia, South Africa and Asia. He was an independent expert and editor for the United Nations CND working group exploring the importance of socio-economic assistance to support effective drug treatment.

His PhD examined the social context of problematic drug use, exploring addiction as primarily a psycho-social issue rooted in structual inequalities rather than a medical condition. A theme throughout his work is the interplay between ‘drug’ use, inequality, oppression and human rights.


A human rights approach to end the global drug policy problem and avoid prohibition 2.0. This questioned our acceptance as drug reformers of key concepts, such as the: ‘war on drugs’, ‘the global drug problem’ and ‘drug free’.

It argued that draconian drug policies rooted in prohibition are the main cause of our problems, not drugs. Enforcement has disproportionately and brutally targeted the poor, indigenous, black and minority ethnic groups worldwide. Those who have suffered most under Prohibition should be protected in any new regime, but there is a risk that the dominant call for Legal Regulation will fail to protect the vulnerable, but will favour the privileged.

Adopting the language of prohibition and calling for particular drugs to be legalised fails to acknowledge and address the fundamental issue of prohibition and the bifurcation of drugs, – it delivers Prohibition 2.0

It outlined a roadmap to full reform and argue that seeing ‘drug’ prohibition as a form of institutionalised oppression of the ‘other’, engaging in activist politics and reclaiming human rights are necessary to end drug prohibition.


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HIT Tweets

We are excited to announce that Haven Wheelock will be a HIT Hot Topics speaker. Haven was a Chief Petitioner for ballot measure 110, which was a first in the USA initiative to decriminalise drugs in the state of Oregon. 2022.hit.org.uk/haven-wheelock/ #harmreduction #conference


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