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 global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.
As spiraling drug violence kills thousands in Mexico and police battle gangs for control of Brazil's drug-infested slums, an international panel has concluded that the U.S.-led war on drugs is a failure. "The global war on drugs has failed," said a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy due to be released Thursday. The report calls for a frank dialogue on the issue and encourages governments to experiment with the regulation of drugs, especially marijuana.
Dame Judi Dench, Sir Richard Branson, and Sting have joined an ex-drugs minister and three former chief constables in calling for the decriminalisation of the possession of all drugs. The high-profile celebrities together with leading lawyers, academics, artists and politicians have signed an open letter to David Cameron to mark this week's 40th anniversary of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. The letter, published in a full-page advertisement in The Guardian, calls for a "swift and transparent" review of the effectiveness of current drugs policies.
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.
TNI has been closely involved with the Global Commission on Drug Policy which presented its report in New York on June 2. Some years ago we published a report, entitled Cracks in the Vienna Consensus in which we argued that cracks were appearing in the supposedly universal model under the UN treaty system. In reality, the global system is based on a highly fragile consensus of Vienna, where the UN drug control system is headquartered, and the painstaking negotiations every year to keep up the appearance of unity have become the symbol of paralysis and frustration.
"The war on drugs has failed," said a recent report compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which comprised a former UN secretary-general, former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, a former US Secretary of State and a host of public intellectuals, human rights activists and politicians.
Maria Moreira, Brendan Hughes, Claudia Costa Storti, Frank Zobel
23 June 2011
This profile describes the national drug policy of Portugal, a policy that has attracted significant attention recently in the media and in policy debates. It considers national strategies and action plans, the legal context within which they operate and the public funds spent, or committed, to resource them. It also describes the political bodies and mechanisms set up to coordinate the response to the multi-faceted problem and the systems of evaluation that may help to improve future policy. The profile puts this information in context by outlining the size, wealth and economic situation of the country as a whole, as well as the historical development of the current policy.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has called for a new approach, having identified an unlikely ally. She wants to exploit the localism agenda of communities secretary Eric Pickles, the no-nonsense cabinet bruiser from Bradford, to decriminalise drug use in the city. If Lucas, the first Green MP in England, gets her way, a town which has gained a reputation as one of the most tolerant in the country will become a pioneer in liberal drugs policy as well.
Health experts in Portugal say that Portugal's decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked. "There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal," said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction. A report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said Portugal had dealt with this issue "in a pragmatic and innovative way."
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
06 July 2011
Let's be clear: HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, proposed by Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul, does not "legalize drugs" or even so much as legalize marijuana. Rather, this legislation removes the power to prosecute minor marijuana offenders from the federal government and relinquishes this authority to state and local jurisdictions.
Liberal Democrats are expected to call for an independent inquiry into the decriminalisation of possession of all drugs. A motion to be put at the party's annual conference next month is likely to be passed. It would be the first government-sponsored inquiry into decriminalisation, but is unlikely to have the support of David Cameron who has hardened his approach to drugs after being a past advocate of more liberal legislation as a member of the home affairs select committee.
The organisers of a Czech petition for the legalisation of cannabis in medical treatment have asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to support the relevant changes in legislation. The petition committee, including doctors, patients and scientists, recalls that it does not seek the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use. Since its launch on August 16, the petition has been signed by almost 5,000 people.
Distinguishing between drug possession for personal use and supply and trafficking is widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult and controversial issues facing drug legislators and policy makers. To address the problem, two solutions are typically enacted: the threshold scheme and the "flexible" model.
Colombia's Supreme Court ruled against harsh punishments for small-time drug offenders, in a move towards easing up Colombia's zero-tolerance drug laws, which have achieved little in the fight against organized crime.
Intercambios Civil Association and the Social Sciences School of the University of Buenos Aires launched the book “Encarcelamientos por delitos relacionados con estupefacientes en Argentina” (Imprisonment for drugs related offenses in Argentina) by Alejandro Corda on the 29th of August, 2011.
In 2000, the Portuguese government responded to widespread public concern over drugs by rejecting a "war on drugs" approach and instead decriminalized drug possession and use. It further rebuffed convention by placing the responsibility for decreasing drug demand as well as managing dependence under the Ministry of Health, rather than the Ministry of Justice. With this, the official response toward drug dependent persons shifted from viewing them as criminals, to treating them as patients.
Criminal charges will only be brought against individuals caught growing or manufacturing drugs or using them in public, according to a draft law presented by the Justice Ministry on Wednesday, which says that the possession of a small quantity of drugs for personal use will be decriminalized. (See also: Drug law reform in Greece)