The Global Commission on Drug Policy is advising world leaders to consider the decriminalization and regulation of illegal drugs, even heroin and cocaine, in an effort to put down the beaten horse of the drug war and finally unleash the remaining casualties.
In a groundbreaking report entitled “Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work,” the 21-member commission, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, states that international drug policy is a failed system, and that individual nations should be allowed permission to normalize controlled substances in the interest of public health and community safety.
“Traditional goals and measures — such as hectares of illicit crops eradicated, amounts of drugs seized, and number of people arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for drug law violations — have failed to produce positive outcomes,” according to the report. “Spending on counterproductive enforcement measures should be ended, while proven prevention, harm reduction and treatment measures are scaled up to meet need.”
The commission finds the principles that dictate the disastrous War on Drugs are in desperate need of immediate change. First and foremost, the report suggests that nations pull their law enforcement resources from the issue of drug use and possession and stop mandating “compulsory treatment” for those found guilty of such offenses.
“Criminalization of drug use and possession has little to no impact on levels of drug use in an open society. Such policies do, however, encourage high risk behaviors such as unsafe injecting, deter people in need of drug treatment from seeking it, divert law enforcement resources from focusing on serious criminality, reduce personal and government funds that might otherwise be available for positive investment in people’s lives, and burden millions with the long-lasting negative consequences of a criminal conviction.”
As a solution, the report encourages countries to establish reasonable alternatives to the incarceration of non-violent associates of the drug trade, including those involved with farming, transport and sales. “Subsistence farmers and day laborers involved in harvesting, processing, transporting or trading and who have taken refuge in the illicit economy purely for reasons of survival should not be subjected to criminal punishment,” states the report.
Ultimately, the goal of the commission is to persuade the global community to experiment with regulations surrounding the current illicit drug market in a manner in which the world has done with alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals. “The most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of the global drug prohibition regime and advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation.”
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that drug prohibition has been a waste of tens of billions of dollars every year, which has strengthened the defense industry but been a brutal slayer to global economies. “The illicit drug trade creates a hostile environment for legitimate business interests. It deters investment and tourism, creates sector volatility and unfair competition (associated with money laundering), and distorts the macroeconomic stability of entire countries.”
The latest recommendations from the Global Commission on Drug Policy are a much needed becoming to worldwide drug reform, which could spawn some significant changes during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs coming up in 2016.