The drug policy of Belgium is defined in two key policy documents, the Federal Drug Policy Note of 2001 and the Common Declaration of 2010. The Federal Drug Policy Note was adopted as a long-term policy document and focuses on both illicit and licit substances, including alcohol, tobacco and psychoactive medicines.
The main goals of this document are the prevention and reduction of risks for people who use drugs, the environment and society as a whole; these goals are organised across three pillars: prevention and early intervention in drug consumption; harm reduction, treatment and reintegration; and enforcement. The Federal Drug Policy Note also states the five main principles of Belgian drug policy, which are (i) a global and integrated approach; (ii) evaluation, epidemiology and scientific research; (iii) prevention for non-users and problematic drug users; (iv) treatment, risk reduction and reintegration for problematic users; and (v) repression of producers and traffickers. The Common Declaration is a further statement and confirms the approach set out in the Federal Drug Policy Note. As such, it can be considered a more up-to-date elaboration of Belgian drug policy.
Belgium evaluates its drug policy and strategy through routine indicator monitoring and specific research projects, in a similar way to other European countries. The evaluation of specific interventions and projects is one of the objectives of the Drug Research Program of Federal Science Policy. In 2014, the federal Minister of Public Health requested a technical analysis of the Belgian cannabis policy, and a future evaluation of the Federal Drug Policy Note and Common Declaration is planned in 2018–19.
The Inter-Ministerial Conferences (IMC) are designed to improve the consultation and collaboration between the federal government, the Communities and the Regions. The IMC Public Health holds thematic meetings on different issues proposed by its members (e.g. the Thematic Meeting on Drugs). The General Drugs Policy Cell (GDPC), which is created by law and consists of representatives of all relevant Ministers on the federal and regional level, supports the IMC in the preparation and coordination of this work on Belgian drug policy. The GDPC is supported by the Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and the Environment. It is involved in the operational coordination and strategic management of Belgium’s drug policy and has various responsibilities related to the implementation of the Belgium Drugs Policy. Whenever needed, the GDPC can establish inter-cabinet working groups to explore certain issues in depth.