According to a new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the global war on drugs has failed and governments should explore legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances.
The report contends that the world-wide “war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.” The report explicates that “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won.”
The panel includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former U.S. official George P. Schultz, former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson, the current prime minister of Greece, and others.
The report argues that governments should end the criminalization of drug use and experiment with models that would undermine organized crime. They believe countries should not punish drug users who do no harm to others and should offer treatment services for those in need. Moreover, the report details how criminalization and other repressive measures have failed to deter supply and consumption. When one trafficking organization is negated another almost instantly emerges.
On the other side, an Office of National Drug Control Policy spokesman, Rafael Lemaitre, argues against the report saying, “Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available—as this report suggests—will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
Statistics in the U.N. report estimate that from 1998 to 2008, opiate use increased 34.5% worldwide, cocaine use jumped 27%, and marijuana use was up 8.5%.
“Incarceration for many of these offenders simply means putting a few months or years between the next hit off the crack pipe, or spike in the arm,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer Avery Appelman. “Unless we treat the underlying problem, a problem that Rafael Lamaitre readily admits is a disease, we will not make any progress in this so-called war on drugs.”
Do you think Drugs should be legalized in the US?