Founder Janneke Nijmeijer:
As an anthropology student I saw the increase of products with a more sustainable and humane production chain. Nowadays we can buy slave free chocolate, fair trade coffee and slow fashion. Simultaneously I experienced the normalization of recreational drug use within my personal life. These parallel phenomena made me wonder: how fair trade is the drugs we consume? I started studying the consequences of cocaine trade for societies that are involved in the production chain. The crime, violence, corruption and ecological destruction that derive from the War on Drugs-policy motivated me to rethink the global vision on tackling cocaine trade. As consumption is here to stay, why shouldn’t we consider fair trade drugs?
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Board member Rebeca Calzada
In 2013 I began working at the Mexican NGO, Espolea, as an assistant of the Drug Policy and Harm Reduction Program. During this time, I participated in activities related to cannabis regulation, drug consumption, drug policy, and peer education on harm reduction. I found this experience very meaningful because it allowed me to understand the drug phenomenon from a human rights perspective, rather than from a punitive one; moreover, it made me aware of the urgent necessity to adopt new approaches to address this issue.
From 2015 until 2018, I worked as a research assistant at the Drug Policy Program of the Centre of Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico, in a research project which assessed the operations of the Mexican Armed Forces during the context of the war on drugs from a legal and human rights perspective.
In 2019 I obtained my master’s in Politics and Society at Maastricht University. Later, from September of 2019 to mid-2020 I joined again the Drug Policy Program at CIDE, to work specifically in a research project which focused on harm reduction strategies and prevention of violent sociability practices within high school students in the state of Aguascalientes, Mexico.
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Board member Guus Zwitser
I have obtained my Master’s in Medicine with a specialization in neurosciences a the VU University Amsterdam in 2009. Afterwards, I obtained a Master’s in Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in Health and Life Sciences with a specialization in international public health in 2013, also at the VU University. From 2012 through 2013, I worked as a volunteer peer educator and peer coach at Unity and Pink Unity, respectively, in Amsterdam. During these two years I participated in outreach activities and worked at the Drugs Test Service to inform people who use psychoactive substances about drug use and harm reduction. Furthermore, during this period I got interested in drug policy and the question why certain substances (including purely plant-based, naturally occurring substances) are declared illegal.
In 2014, I moved to Mexico City, where I first worked as a volunteer peer educator in the field of sexual health and drug use at Fundación Unidos por un México Vivo and Espolea, respectively. From June 2014 through December 2018, I served as the Executive Coordinator of the Drug Policy Program at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas—a public university and interdisciplinary research center in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Amongst other things, I was responsible for grant management, participated in various research projects, and co-organized the annual Course on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights, which received students—amongst whom where academics, activists, journalists, and policy makers—from all over the Americas and the Caribbean. During those years, I learned about the widespread negative effects that current drug policies have in the world and in Latin America in particular. Furthermore, living in Mexico has also allowed me to experience first hand what the effects of the war on drugs and a militarized anti-drug strategy have on society.
I moved back to Mexico City in 2019, where I have been working as Special Project Coordinator at México Unido Contra la Delincuencia ever since. In this capacity, I coordinate a (research) project that seeks to develop prevention policies in 10 Mexican states. These public policies are to take a harm-reductionist approach—to contrast with the currently prevailing prohibitionist paradigm—and aim to postpone the initiation of drug use among adolescents.
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