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Drug Policy Forum Special Report - The Global Commission on Drug Policy

On Thursday the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a groundbreaking report condemning the drug war as a failure and recommending major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime. In this Special Edition of the Drug Policy Forum, we take a look at the global media response and highlight the key issues ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
4 June 2011

 

Has the Global War on Drugs Failed? A Discussion with Steve Rolles, Neil McKeganey and Guxd de Wit 

A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy has concluded that the global war on drugs has failed. The commission, which includes a group of politicians and former world leaders, says the current anti-drug policy has been fuelling organised crime, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and causing thousands of deaths.  

The authors of the report have called for some drugs to be legalised and for an end to the criminalisation of drug users.

They also criticised governments that claim the current war on drugs is effective. But, the White House has rejected the findings, saying the report is misguided. The US government has spent more than $2.5 trillion fighting the war on drugs over the past 40 years. 

How essential is the need for frank dialogue on the issue? Can the calls for legalising or decriminalising drugs help deal with the problem or will they make it worse? Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, discusses with Neil McKeganey, a professor of Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow; Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst at Transform; and Guxd De Wit, an addiction therapist.  

This episode of Inside Story aired from Thursday, June 2, 2011. 

 

 

Source: Al Jazeera 

War on drugs not working, says global commission 

The global war on drugs has failed and governments should explore legalising marijuana and other controlled substances, according to a commission that includes former heads of state and a former UN secretary general.

A new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy argues that the decades-old "global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The 24-page paper was released on Thursday. 

"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 report said. 

The 19-member commission includes former UN chief Kofi Annan and former US official George Schultz, who held cabinet posts under Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, the authors Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, the businessman Sir Richard Branson and the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou. 

Instead of punishing users, who the report says "do no harm to others", the commission argues that governments should end criminalisation of drug use; experiment with legal models that would undermine organised crime syndicates; and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need. The commission called for drug policies based on methods empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Guardian

Many agree, none act: to ease untold misery, legalise drugs 

In September 1989 Milton Friedman, the man whose views on economics influenced the policies of almost every government on the planet, wrote to Bill Bennett, "drug tsar" to the first President Bush. As Bennett prepared for a new phase in the "war on drugs", launched by President Nixon 18 years earlier – more police, harsher penalties, more jails, more military action overseas – Friedman wrote that "the very measures you favour are a major source of the evils you deplore". He pointed out how illegality made the drugs industry more, not less, lucrative, how crime had flourished during alcohol prohibition in the 1930s and would flourish more under Bennett's plans, and how "crack" might never have been invented had it not been for the drugs war. 

Friedman was a firm supporter of decriminalising drugs, and regulating them as alcohol and tobacco are regulated. But however much governments listened to him on economics, they always ignored him on drugs. Many politicians of left and right have accepted the arguments for legalising drugs – but only before or after being in office. The signatories to a report launched in New York on Thursday, declaring that "the global war on drugs has failed" and that "the criminalisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation" of drug users should end, could hardly be more impressive. 

They include former presidents of Brazil, Switzerland and Colombia, a former secretary general of the UN and a former US secretary of state. But the only current office holder is Greece's George Papandreou, who has other things on his mind just now. Other current leaders may be thought sympathetic. David Cameron said that the "war on drugs … has been tried and we all know it does not work". Barack Obama called the drugs war "an utter failure". But they said those things in 2002 and 2004 respectively, long before they got close to political power. 

The arguments for legalisation are overwhelming. They do not rest on approval of drugs, or ignorance of their harms, or any wish to see their consumption increase. They are based on the argument that regulation would be less harmful to drug users, less damaging to society and less expensive to taxpayers than outright prohibition. Nobody disputes the dangers of drugs, only the best ways of controlling them. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Guardian

Celebrities call for decriminalisation of drugs 

Dame Judi Dench, Sting and Julie Christie have urged Prime Minister David Cameron to decriminalise possession of all drugs. In an open letter to him they call for "a swift and transparent review of the effectiveness of drug policies". 

The letter, which was published by the campaign group Release, says: "It is clear that the present system of applying the criminal law to the personal use and possession of drugs has failed." 

It says nearly 80,000 people in the UK were convicted or cautioned for possessing drugs last year and "most were young, black or poor". The letter from the celebrities comes as the Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include tycoon Sir Richard Branson, admits that the war on drugs has failed. He said that a new approach "that takes the power out of the hands of organised crime" was needed.

Source: The Independent

Mary Ann Sieghart: A 'war' we should fight no longer 

When Barack Obama and David Cameron wrote a joint opinion piece for The Times last week, their first sentence was: "Both of us came of age during the 1980s." Those of us of a similar age know what that meant: an adolescence spent in a haze of post-punk, reggae, acid house and dope. Obama has admitted smoking cannabis and taking cocaine; Cameron refuses to confirm or deny that he inhaled anything, but the nod and the wink are hard to miss. 

Before he was President, Obama called the war on drugs an "utter failure" and said we should think about decriminalising cannabis. Before he was Prime Minister, Cameron said Britain's drug policy was an "abject failure" and called for a debate on legalisation of all drugs. Now that they're in power, though, both men have had an utter and abject failure of nerve. They agree with the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, who once said, in this context: "We know what to do, but we don't know how to get re-elected once we have done it." 

They are not just craven but wrong. For, inexorably, the momentum is building for a more rational way of dealing with drugs. And it's not only because baby-boomers and their successor generations now make up three-quarters of voters. The big hitters are onside too. This week, the Global Commission on Drug Policy will publish a report in New York calling for a "paradigm shift" in the way we deal with drugs. It will advocate not just decriminalisation, but also experiments with legalisation and regulation. Its cast list of backers is stellar. 

Step forward former Presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Switzerland; the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan; the former US Secretary of State, George Schultz; the former EU High Representative, Javier Solana; and – intriguingly – the current Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou. Other luminaries include Paul Volcker, ex-Chairman of the Fed, and Richard Branson (anyone for some Virgin Gold?). 

In Britain too, former politicians and policy-makers are calling for change. The new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, led by the redoubtable Baroness Meacher, has members who include a former Tory Chancellor, Lord Lawson; a former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller; and a former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven. These are people who have tried to win the war on drugs and failed.

They see the explosive costs of prohibition and are prepared at least to contemplate the notion that the benefits of relaxation might be greater. Even Mike Trace, who used to be the UK's deputy drugs tsar, is on their side. He has written a paper for the Global Commission on Drug Policy explaining why the policies he followed haven't worked. So politicians understand all this before they take office. They are prepared to admit it again after they leave office. But they are too scared to do anything about it when they're there. Why? To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Independent

War on drugs 'just isn't working' say global leaders 

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan and Virgin boss Sir  Richard Branson, warns that the war on drugs has failed and a major policy shift is needed. 

Sir Richard, co-founder of a group of global leaders called The Elders, said: ‘The war on drugs has failed to cut drug usage,’ adding it has filled our jails, cost millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, fuelled organised crime and caused thousands of deaths. The report says countries that have decriminalised drugs, such as Portugal in 2001, have seen problematic drug use and drug-related deaths fall. 

The commission called for UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to help create ‘a truly coordinated and coherent global drug strategy that balances the need to stifle drug supply and fight organised crime with the need to provide health services, social care and economic development to affected individuals and communities’.

Danny Kushlick, of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said: ‘This report is a watershed moment that puts legal regulation of drugs on to the mainstream political agenda worldwide.’ 

The Home Office said last night it will ignore the report. ‘We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives,’ a spokesman said.

Source: Metro

Global war on drugs 'has failed' say former leaders 

The Global Commission on Drug Policy report calls for the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users. The panel includes former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the former leaders of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, and the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

The US and Mexican governments have rejected the findings as misguided. The Global Commission's 24-page report argues that anti-drug policy has failed by fuelling organised crime, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and causing thousands of deaths. It cites UN estimates that opiate use increased 35% worldwide from 1998 to 2008, cocaine by 27%, and cannabis by 8.5%. 

The 19-member commission includes Mexico's former President Ernesto Zedillo, Brazil's ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, as well as the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and the current Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou.

The panel also features prominent Latin American writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, the EU's former foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and George Schultz, a former US secretary of state.

It is a damning indictment. The group of world leaders, including former Presidents of Mexico and Colombia which are blighted by the trade in illegal drugs, says urgent changes are overdue. Their report says current policies to tackle drug abuse and the crime that preys on it are clearly not working, but result in thousands of deaths and rampant lawlessness. It calls for an end to the 'criminalisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others'. The leading international figures behind the report do not pull their punches. They say sensible regulation of drugs is working in some countries but they accuse many governments around the world of pretending that the current war on drugs is effective when they know it isn't.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: BBC News

Dame Judi Dench and Sting head drug rethink call 

Several high profile figures have signed an open letter urging Prime Minister David Cameron to consider decriminalising drugs. Dame Judi Dench and Sting were among more than 30 signatories. It comes as a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include Sir Richard Branson, urged legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of users. The Home Office said it had "no intention" of liberalising drugs laws. The open letter, which was also signed by former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth and actor Kathy Burke, called for the "immediate decriminalisation of drug possession" if a policy review shows it has failed. 

Francis Wilkinson, Tom Lloyd and Paul Whitehouse - former police chiefs of constabularies in Gwent, Cambridgeshire and Sussex respectively - also signed the open letter. Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi urged Mr Cameron to carry out "a swift and transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies". 

And Sting added: "Giving young people criminal records for minor drug possession serves little purpose - it is time to think of more imaginative ways of addressing drug use in our society." The open letter states: "Should such a review of the evidence demonstrate the failure of the current position we would call for the immediate decriminalisation of drug possession." Nearly 80,000 people in the UK were convicted or cautioned for possessing an illegal drug in the last year alone, the letter published by campaign group Release said. To learn more please follow this link

Source: BBC News

Global war on drugs a failure, high-level panel says 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A high-level international commission on Thursday declared the global "war on drugs" a failure and urged nations to consider steps such as legalizing marijuana to help undermine the power of organized crime. The Global Commission on Drug Policy urges international leaders to take a new approach to reducing drug abuse, to replace the current strategy of strictly criminalizing drugs and incarcerating drug users while battling criminal cartels that control the drug trade. 

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," according to the report issued by the commission. The 19-member panel includes current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and former heads of state; former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; businessman Richard Branson; and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz. The commission said that fundamental reforms are urgently needed in national and global drug control policies. Among the commission's recommendations: 

  • Replace the criminalization and punishment of people who are drug users but do not hurt other people with the offer of health and treatment services to those who need them.
  • Encourage governments to consider legalizing marijuana and perhaps other illicit drugs "to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens." It said that decriminalization initiatives do not result in significant increases in drug use.
  • Countries that continue to invest mostly in a law enforcement approach should focus on violent organized crime and drug traffickers

Source: Reuters

Drugs need new thinking 

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group that includes former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and several former Latin American presidents, is expected to announce soon that the “war on drugs” has been a failure. 

The Mexican government states that since President Felipe Calderón took office in 2006 and implemented a crackdown, trafficking has been a factor in 35,000 deaths, and drug-related corruption is out of control. In the United States, which has the world's highest levels of use, the NGO Drug Policy Alliance estimates that official bodies spend $51 billion a year fighting drugs. The political context is also significant.

In India, regions like the Northeast reveal connections between conflict and opportunities for trafficking, as also between injected drugs and HIV/AIDS transmission. Furthermore, law and policy are no deterrents; research on cannabis use has found that the most important factor is the social context. 

With illegal drugs now a major source of income for organised crime, governments cannot curb the trade and often resort to torture and extra-judicial killings. State agencies also seem to deal in deadly drugs. The crashes in Latin America of two aircraft used by the CIA for the rendition of terrorism suspects for torture elsewhere revealed cargoes totalling four tonnes of cocaine. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Hindu

Launch of the Global Commission on Drug Policy 

The purpose of the Global Commission on Drug Policy is to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.  

Drugs are a complex and controversial issue. There is a growing perception that the ‘war on drugs’ approach has failed. Eradication of production and criminalization of consumption did not reduce drug traffic and drug use. In many countries the harm caused by drug prohibition in terms of corruption, violence and violation of human rights largely exceeds the harm caused by drugs. In many countries repressive policies remain firmly in place. Hence the need for engaging many actors - legislators and policymakers, scientists and health professionals, educators, law enforcement officers, parents and the young - in a constructive debate about viable alternatives, both at the national and international level.  

The Commission will aim to build on the successful experience of the Latin American Commission convened by former presidents Cardoso of Brazil, Gaviria of Colombia and Zedillo of Mexico in 2009. Persuaded that the association between drug trade, violence and corruption was a threat to democracy in Latin America , the Commission reviewed the current ‘war on drugs’ policies and opened a public debate about an issue that tends to be surrounded by fear and misinformation. These goals were fulfilled with the publication on February 2009 of the Commission’s statement, Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

Major Panel: Drug War Failed; Legalize Marijuana 

The global war on drugs has failed and governments should explore legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances, according to a commission that includes former heads of state, a former U.N. secretary-general and a business mogul. A new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy argues that the decades-old "global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The 24-page paper will be released Thursday. 

The 19-member commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. official George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson and the current prime minister of Greece. 

Instead of punishing users who the report says "do no harm to others," the commission argues that governments should end criminalization of drug use, experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need. The commission called for drug policies based on methods empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development. 

The commission is especially critical of the United States, which its members say must lead changing its anti-drug policies from being guided by anti-crime approaches to ones rooted in healthcare and human rights.

"We hope this country (the U.S.) at least starts to think there are alternatives," former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria told The Associated Press by phone. "We don't see the U.S. evolving in a way that is complatible with our (countries') long-term interests." To learn more please follow this link

Source: ABC News

Global war on drugs ‘has failed’ say former leaders 

The global war on drugs has “failed” according to a new story by group of politicians and former world leaders. The Global Commission on Drug Policy account calls for the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of remedy users. 

The panel includes former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the former advantaged of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, and the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The US and Mexican governments have rejected the answer as mistaken. 

The Global Commission’s 24-page report argues that anti-drug policy has failed by fuelling organised crime, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and causing thousands of deaths. It cites UN estimates that opiate use increased 35% worldwide from 1998 to 2008, cocaine by 27%, and cannabis by 8.5%. 

The 19-member commission includes Mexico’s previous President Ernesto Zedillo, Brazil’s ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and ex- Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, as well as the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and the current Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou. The panel also facial appearance prominent Latin American writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, the EU’s former overseas policy chief Javier Solana, and George Schultz, a former US secretary of state. 

The authors criticise governments who claim the present war on drugs is effective: “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overpoweringly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won,” the report said. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Pakistan BBC News

Branson backs drugs policy change 

Sir Richard Branson and Dame Judi Dench have called for the Government to consider decriminalising drugs as its current policy was condemned as a failure. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, warned that major policy reforms were needed to help reduce the prison population and stop wasting millions of pounds. 

Dame Judi backed calls for the "immediate decriminalisation of drug possession" should a policy review show it has failed while Sir Richard said a new approach was needed. "One that takes the power out of the hands of organised crime and treats people with addiction problems like patients, not criminals," he said. 

Dame Judi urged David Cameron to carry out "a swift and transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies". The Oscar-winning actress was one of more than 30 high-profile figures, including Sir Richard, who signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, saying: "Should such a review of the evidence demonstrate the failure of the current position we would call for the immediate decriminalisation of drug possession." 

Nearly 80,000 people in the UK were convicted or cautioned for possessing an illegal drug in the last year alone and "most were young, black or poor", the letter published by campaign group Release said.The intervention of high-profile public figures, backed by many others including Sting, actor Julie Christie and former defence minister Bob Ainsworth, comes as a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy said action was needed "urgently" and "policies need to change now". To learn more please follow this link

Source: Daily Mirror

High-profile panel urges non-criminal approach to world drug policy 

Calling the global war on drugs a costly failure, a group of high-profile world leaders is urging the Obama administration and other governments to end "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others."

A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, recommends that governments try new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to deny profits to drug cartels.

The recommendation was swiftly dismissed by the Obama administration and the government of Mexico, which are allied in a violent 4 1/2 -year-old crackdown on cartels that has killed more than 38,000 people in Mexico. Three of the report's Latin American signatories, Gaviria and former Presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, made similar recommendations two years ago. Their views failed to change the enforcement-based approach that dominates drug policies worldwide. 

 Mexican President Felipe Calderon, a conservative, has made the battle against drug cartels a centerpiece of his administration. Although the growing death toll has stirred widespread public dismay in Mexico, Calderon shows no sign of turning back before his six-year term ends next year. A poll on security matters released Wednesday found broad public opposition in Mexico to legalizing drug sales. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Chicago Tribune

24 hours to End the War on Drugs 

Amazing! In just a few days, we blew past our goal of 500,000 voices calling for an end to the war on drugs. Our message will be hand-delivered to world leaders on Thursday, June 2 at a press conference in New York and to the UN Secretary-General on Friday, June 3. The event will feature a live counter of petition signatures, so every one of us counts -- let's keep spreading the word and building this campaign!

In 72 hours, we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This expensive war has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.

Experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In 72 hours, a global commission including former heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, US, Brazil, Mexico and more will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.

This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment -- if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn't ready for an alternative. Let's show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy -- we demand it. Sign the petition and share with everyone -- when we reach 1/2 million, it will be personally delivered to world leaders by the global commission. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Avaaz 

Panel Calls War on Drugs a Failure 

MEXICO CITY—As spiraling drug violence kills thousands in Mexico and police battle gangs for control of Brazil's drug-infested slums, a high-level international panel has concluded that the U.S.-led war on drugs isn't working. "The global war on drugs has failed," said a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy released Thursday. The report calls for a frank dialogue on the issue and encourages governments to experiment with the regulation of drugs, especially marijuana. Read the Report: Read the Global Commission on Drug Policy's report 

The 19-member commission draws from a broad political spectrum: former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan; former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana; and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia—all countries that have faced brutal drug violence. Former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker are members of the commission, as are writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa. 

The report calls for drug policies based on methods proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development. It said the U.S. must change its anti-drug policies from being focused on anti-crime approaches to ones rooted in health care and human rights. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Wall Street Journal 

War on drugs has failed, report finds 

The global war on drugs has failed, a high-level commission comprised of former presidents, public intellectuals and other leaders studying drug policies concluded in a report released Thursday.

International efforts to crack down on drug producers and consumers and to try to reduce demand have had "devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy said.

The commission, which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, challenges the conventional wisdom about drug markets and drug use. Among the group's recommendations:

-- End of criminalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do not harm others

-- Encourage governments to experiment with drug legalization, especially marijuana

-- Offer more harm reduction measures, such as access to syringes

-- Ditch "just say no" and "zero tolerance" policies for youth in favor of other educational efforts.

The theory that increasing law enforcement action would lead to a shrinking drug market has not worked, the report says. To the contrary, illegal drug markets and the organized criminal organizations that traffic them have grown, the group found. The report comes as countries such as Mexico suffer from widespread drug-related violence. More than 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico in the past four years as rival cartels battle each other over lucrative smuggling corridors and as the army fights the cartels. To learn more please follow this link

Source: CNN 

Global war on drugs 'a failure' 

A high-level international commission has declared the global "war on drugs" to be a failure, and has urged countries to consider legalising certain drugs, including cannabis, in a bid to undermine organised crime.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, in its report released on Thursday, called for a new approach to the current strategy of reducing drug abuse by strictly criminalising drugs and incarcerating users.

It said the new approach should focus on battling the criminal cartels that control the drug trade, rather than targeting drug users.

 

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," the report said. The study urged "experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs", adding: "This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalisation and legal regulation."

About 250 million people worldwide use drugs that are currently deemed illegal, with less than a tenth of them classified as "dependent". Millions are also involved in the cultivation, production and distribution of drugs, according to the United Nations estimates quoted in the report. The study said decriminalisation initiatives have not been accompanied by a significant spike in drug use, citing the implementation of such policies in Australia, Portugal and the Netherlands. 

"Now is the time to break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternatives to drug prohibition," Cesar Gaviria, the former Colombian president, said. The commission called for the urgent implementation of fundamental reforms in national and international drug control policies. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Al Jazeera 

World Leaders Call Drug War Failure 

 

 

Source: YouTube

Major Panel: Drug War Failed; Legalize Marijuana 

NEW YORK-- The global war on drugs has failed and governments should explore legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances, according to a commission that includes former heads of state, a former U.N. secretary-general and a business mogul. 

A new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy argues that the decades-old "global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The 24-page paper will be released Thursday. "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 report said. 

The 19-member commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. official George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson and the current prime minister of Greece

Instead of punishing users who the report says "do no harm to others," the commission argues that governments should end criminalization of drug use, experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Fox News 

High-profile panel urges non-criminal approach to world drug policy 

Reporting from Mexico City and Washington: Calling the global war on drugs a costly failure, a group of high-profile world leaders is urging the Obama administration and other governments to end "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others."

A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. Secretary-GeneralKofi Annan and past presidents of MexicoBrazil and Colombia, recommends that governments try new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to deny profits to drug cartels.

The recommendation was swiftly dismissed by the Obama administration and the government of Mexico, which are allied in a violent 4 1/2 -year-old crackdown on cartels that has killed more than 38,000 people in Mexico.

"The U.S. needs to open a debate," former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, a member of the panel, said by telephone from New York, where the report is scheduled to be released Thursday. "When you have 40 years of a policy that is not bringing results, you have to ask if it's time to change it."

An advance copy of the report was provided to The Times. Three of the report's Latin American signatories, Gaviria and former Presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, made similar recommendations two years ago. Their views failed to change the enforcement-based approach that dominates drug policies worldwide.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, a conservative, has made the battle against drug cartels a centerpiece of his administration. Although the growing death toll has stirred widespread public dismay in Mexico, Calderon shows no sign of turning back before his six-year term ends next year. A poll on security matters released Wednesday found broad public opposition in Mexico to legalizing drug sales. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: LA Times 

Supply and demand 

NARCOTICS liberalisation was once the cause of freethinkers and hippies. Now a more sober bunch is criticising the “war on drugs”. On June 2nd the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group including ex-presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland; the prime minister of Greece; a former secretary-general of the United Nations; and, from America, an ex-secretary of state and ex-chairman of the Federal Reserve, called for the decriminalisation of all drug taking, and for experiments in the legal regulation of the sale of drugs, starting with cannabis. 

Calls for a rethink of the 50-year-old policy of prohibition have been growing. As the report pointed out, drug consumption has continued to rise, even as billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives have been spent trying to stamp it out. In the ten years to 2008, the most recent data available, the number taking cannabis worldwide increased by 8.5%, of cocaine by 27%, and of opiates by 34.5%. America’s federal government alone spent $15 billion in 2010 on drug control; perhaps $25 billion more went in other public spending. 

Prohibition has brought many short-term wins but no lasting ones. The authorities drove cocaine smugglers out of the Caribbean in the 1980s. But they then popped up in Mexico. A campaign against “narcos” there has cost at least 35,000 lives in the past five years—and is driving them into the chaotic countries of Central America. Guatemalan officers found 27 headless bodies near the Mexican border last month, and blamed the Mexican Zetas “cartel”. 

A similar merry-go-round is spinning in the Andes, where production driven out of Peru and Bolivia and into Colombia in the 1990s is now being swept back in the other direction. As cocaine taking has fallen in America it has risen in Europe: Latin American “cartels” have diversified their export strategy (wrecking parts of West Africa, a convenient staging post, along the way). 

The Global Commission backs basic measures to protect drug takers and save money: providing clean needles, for instance, does not stop people taking the drug, but does stop them getting infected. In Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Australia—which all got on the clean-needle bandwagon early—HIV rates among injecting drug takers are lower than 4%. But they are more than 12% in France, and over 15% in America and Portugal, which came late to the idea. Thailand and Russia, still not keen, have rates of around 40%. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Economist

Report: 'Global War On Drugs Has Failed' 

The global war on drugs has failed with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world, argues a new report to be released Thursday.

Compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former heads of state, a former U.N. secretary-general and a business mogul, the report calls on governments to end the criminalization of marijuana and other controlled substances.  Read The Report Findings Of The Global Commission On Drug Policy (PDF)

"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 report said.

The 19-member commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. official George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson and the current prime minister of Greece.

Instead of punishing users who the report says "do no harm to others," the commission argues that governments should end criminalization of drug use, experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need. The commission called for drug policies based on methods empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development. 

The commission is especially critical of the United States, which its members say must lead changing its anti-drug policies from being guided by anti-crime approaches to ones rooted in health care and human rights.

"We hope this country [the U.S.] at least starts to think there are alternatives," former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria told The Associated Press by phone. "We don't see the U.S. evolving in a way that is compatible with our [countries'] long-term interests." To learn more please follow this link

Source: NPR

Drug War Has Failed And Governments Should Explore Legalizing Marijuana, Says Report 

NEW YORK — The global war on drugs has failed and governments should explore legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances, according to a commission that includes former heads of state, a former U.N. secretary-general and a business mogul. 

A new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy argues that the decades-old "global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The 24-page paper will be released Thursday. 

"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 report said.

The 19-member commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. official George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson and the current prime minister of Greece. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

A report that dares to tell the truth to power 

lobal commissions made up of eminent former policymakers can normally be counted upon to tell international leaders what they want to hear. But the Global Commission on Drug Policy – which has called on the services of distinguished names such Paul Volcker, Kofi Annan, Mario Vargas Llosa, Javier Solana and half a dozen former national politicians – has done something very different. Instead of telling world leaders what they want to hear, the commission has, instead, told them the truth.

Its report makes it clear that the war on drugs – the policy of total prohibition followed by the world's most powerful nations for the best part of four decades – "has not, and cannot, be won". It points out that the "war" has manifestly failed to curb the use of narcotics. On the contrary, drug taking has increased significantly. Between 1998 and 2008 estimated global heroin use has increased by 35 per cent, cocaine use by 27 per cent and cannabis by 8.5 per cent. It points out that the policy of prohibition has funnelled billions of dollars into the pockets of organised criminals around the world, who control the trade and fight viciously over its profits. In Mexico alone, 34,000 people have died in drugs-related violence since late 2006.

The Commission also has the courage to propose a radically different policy. It recommends the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users. Addicts, it argues, should receive treatment and health services rather than prosecution through the law. Public resources should be channelled to prevention, rather than prohibition. It also urges political leaders and public figures to "have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately".

These are all sound arguments. The fact that they are far from new does not make them any the less powerful. But what are the chances of this report influencing the present crop of political leaders around the world? Sadly they are vanishingly slim. The White House "drug tsar" Richard Gil Kerlikowske rejected the report's recommendations yesterday. According to Ms Kerlikowske "making drugs more available will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe". This completely ignores the point made by the report that drugs are already readily available and that the purpose of a policy of prevention would be to squeeze demand. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Independent

DrugScope responds to Global Commission on Drug Policy report 

DrugScope has responded to the release of a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The document, launched in New York, calls for “a paradigm shift in global drug policy”, with a move from a criminal justice towards a public health approach, and asks that policy makers recognise the ‘complex reality’ of drug use.

The Commission is made up of prominent global figures, including the former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria, former President of Colombia and Nobel Laureate for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa. They have agreed four core principles which it says ‘should guide national and international drug policies and strategies’ and makes eleven recommendations.

The report highlights evidence of the benefits of harm reduction and public health strategies, including low HIV prevalence among injecting drug users. The UK is referenced among countries ‘that have consistently implemented comprehensive harm reduction strategies’ with HIV prevalence of under 5% among people who inject drugs. In comparison, prevalence in the United States, which was ‘late’ to adopt a harm reduction strategies, is 15% while Russia, which has so far resisted large scale implementation, has a prevalence rate of over 35%. The report argues that evidence based treatment and prevention should be a key responsibility for governments across the world.

DrugScope has consistently supported an evidence-based and incremental approach to drug law reform and supports calls for the government to consider different ways of using the criminal justice system, including the evidence for the decriminalisation of drugs for possession offences.Law enforcement activity should be concentrated on those are involved in the manufacture and supply of drugs. To learn more please follow this link

Source: DrugScope

Expose the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics

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