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WHO Demands Drug Decriminalization

The World Health Organization, which serves as the health authority for the United Nations, is calling for lawmakers across the globe to reform their nation’s drug policies. Earlier this month, the agency published testimony, which finds the most effective method for diagnosing and preventing the spread of HIV in key populations is to make global changes to drug laws, including the decriminalization of drug use and a ban on mandatory treatment for drug users.

While the report focuses on intervenes drug use, the agency indicates that all illegal drugs should be decriminalized. “Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration,” reads the section entitled Good Practice Recommendations Concerning Decriminalization.

In addition, the latest WHO report insists, “countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize the use of clean needles and syringes (and that permit NSPs [needle and syringe programmes]) and that legalize OST [opioid substitution therapy] for people who are opioid-dependent,” as well “ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.”

This is not the first time this year the agency has issued remarks in regards to the need for international drug reform. In March, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime issued a report, which indicated that “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” to the grand scheme of preventing drug abuse.

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says the World Health Organization’s latest report is a direct reflection of the long-withstanding goals of the DPA. “It’s good to see the WHO come out so strongly for decriminalizing drugs and rejecting compulsory treatment for people who use drugs,’ said Nadelmann. “Its recommendations, grounded as they are in science and public health, drive home the need for fundamental reforms in U.S. drug policies, in particular the growing reliance on drug courts to ‘treat’ people arrested for drug possession.”

Lawmakers all over the world have lost faith in the War on Drugs. Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use here in America, while last year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the leaf. Most recently, both the Jamaican Cabinet and leaders of the Caribbean Community announced plans to reform their policies surrounding marijuana. It is with hope that more nations will find the courage to follow in these progressive footsteps.

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