Toward a Paradigm Shift

11 February 2009
Article


The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy presented its conclusions at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, on 11 February. Founded by former Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico), integrated by 17 independent members, the Commission assessed the limits and unwanted effects of the repressive policies of  the "war on drugs" in Latin America.

The creation of this Commission followed the 10 years review of global drug policies within the United Nations, which began in March 2008 and will be finalized at a ministerial meeting in March 2009 in Vienna, Austria.

"Prohibitionist policies based on the eradication of production and on the disruption of drug flows as well as on the criminalization of consumption have not yielded the desired results. We are further than ever from the announced goal of eradicating drugs," the Commission concluded. 

"Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade are critical problems in Latin America today. Confronted with a situation that is growing worse by the day, it is imperative to rectify the 'war on drugs' strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years."

The Commission’s proposals for more efficient and humane strategies, presented in document Drugs and Democracy: Towards a Paradigm Shift, are based on three main guidelines:

•  treat drug use as a public health issue;
•  reduce consumption through information and prevention actions;
•  focus on the enforcement against organized crime.

The Commission also invites governments and societies to "assess in the light of public health and advanced medical science the convenience of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana for personal consumption."

Ending silence and breaking the taboo that blocks the debate on the drug problem is a precondition for each country to find innovative solutions appropriate to its history and its culture.

TNIs Martin Jelsma was an advisor to the Commission, read his contribution: The current state of drug policy debate.

For more information on the work of the Commission and its proposals, please visit www.drugsanddemocracy.org .

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009