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#42 – Alternatives to Prohibition with Dr Sheila Vakharia and Prof Alex Stevens

This week’s episode features Doctor Sheila Vakharia and Professor Alex Stevens, together with Professor Nutt they will be talking about decriminalization and drug policies in the US and the UK. Has both countries’ drug policies arisen from colonialism and social class hierarchy? What are the consequences of the policies that can be witnessed today? Are there any reasons for drug criminalisation?


Who is Dr Sheila Vakharia?

Dr Sheila P Vakharia, PhD is Deputy Director of the Department of Research and Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance, a US organisation advocating for decriminalisation of drug use. Prior to joining DPA, Dr. Vakharia was an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Long Island University, and had also worked as a clinical social worker in both abstinence-only and harm reduction settings. Her research interests include harm reduction therapy, drug policy reform, drug user stigma, overdose prevention, and social work education. She is currently on the Board of Directors of HAMS Harm Reduction Network and Filter magazine. She has written op-eds for the Philadelphia Inquirer on the overdose crisis and NY Daily News on drug-induced homicide laws and stimulants.


Who is Prof Alex Stevens?

Professor Alex Stevens has worked on issues of drugs, crime and health in the voluntary sector, as an academic researcher and as an adviser to the UK government. He has published extensively on these issues, with a focus on the sociology of drugs and crime, on risk behaviours by young people, on the use of evidence in policy and on quasi-compulsory drug treatment. His published works include a book on ‘Drugs, Crime and Public Health‘, studies of decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal, of the right to use drugs, on gangs and on the ethnography of policy making.

Professor Stevens’ interest in drugs and crime dates back to his time working with UK charity Prisoners Abroad, which provides advice and information to British prisoners held in foreign prisons, and as European project manager and coordinator of the European Network of Drug and HIV/AIDS Services in Prison for Cranstoun Drugs Services.