MTA Law Working Papers


Vinicius Gorczeski: Crackland: symbol of Brazil’s drug policy failure

“Crackland”, located in the heart of Sao Paulo, is Brazil’s most long-standing open drugs scene, where crack cocaine users settled and where violence spread for the past two decades. This paper seeks to analyze the paradoxical mechanisms adopted by policymakers and law enforcement in the city of Sao Paulo that led Crackland and problems stemming from its very existence to root and persist. First, this paper introduces an overview of the current Crackland landscape and failed attempts to deal with it. Then, it relates that to a rooted history of war on drugs in the city and in Brazil as driving forces undermining progressive and internationally recognized approaches to dealing with illegal drug usage. An example of promising policy, the Open Arms program, suffered from the lack authorities’ capabilities to steer the program and stumbled upon conflicting legislation before it was declared to be dismantled. Subsequently, ways to improve the program under the current policy framework will be analyzed through international best practices in law and drugs policies.