Jump to content or navigation.
Eranid Coordination of Research on illicit drugs Contact us



Elsa Maia
Policy Officer (European Commission)

Drugs policy must be based on evidence’

The great benefit of ERANID is that we will eventually be in a better position to base drugs policy on scientific findings, believes Elsa Maia, who works at the European Commission as a Policy Officer for the Unit of Anti-drugs Policy. ‘We need the objectivity of science.’


It is no secret that as soon as the subject turns to drugs, fact and opinion often get confused. This is almost inevitable in an area involving so many moral and ethical issues. That is precisely why Elsa Maia believes it is so important that both drugs policy and practice are based on firmer foundations which are themselves based on the results of scientific research.


Clear view
‘Without research you cannot have evidence based policy options’, says Elsa Maia . ‘We need the clear view of science to put an end to all kinds of ethical and moral discussions.’ That is why she feels it is so important that the policies now being pursued will be evaluated. ‘Not all countries implement the same measures. And they don’t have to. But we do need common ground, best practice for effective policy. Drugs policy must be based on evidence.’ Given her views, she has been a strong supporter of ERANID right from the outset. ‘It’s innovative, multidisciplinary, international and everybody is highly motivated to make a success of it.’


One big programme
Elsa Maia explains that ERANID is the endpoint of a long process that brought several drugs research initiatives together. ‘We needed to provide a framework to enhance coordination, one big programme to create multidisciplinary research. That’s how ERANID came to be.’ She believes one of the main benefits of ERANID is the diverse backgrounds of the people working on it – people from a range of scientific backgrounds working in various disciplines in various countries. ‘We have put everybody together.’


Strategic Research Agenda
Elsa Maia is well aware that this diversity is an important added value and allows for a dynamic research process.’ She also points out that the programme has achieved its first major result: the Strategic Research Agenda. ‘Every country and every research institute now knows what we have to work on. It gives us a clear idea of the way forward. It describes all areas that research needs to focus on. And yes, I think this will work very well. In time, it will give us the evidence we need to base our policy on.’


Although Elsa Maia has high expectations of the potential of the research being conducted in ERANID, she also sees problems looming on the horizon. ‘It’s a double-sided situation. On the one hand we’ll have more opportunities for constant policy evaluation. But that requires more and highly targeted and specific research. On the other hand we have to be realistic. Drug issues are no longer in the spotlight. That means that funding drug research will become more difficult. There’s a challenge for all of us. We’ll have to make clear how the EU and its members can and will benefit from the ERANID research.’