Scientists, lawyers, police, social workers, doctors and directors of public prosecution are pleading for change but no political party will touch the issue in Australia. Public debate on the subject remains as primitive as ever. After all these years we are still dealing with the basics – over and over again. That's no accident. It's what moral panic driven by some media does.
We are supposedly engaged in a "war on drugs." What war on drugs? A phoney war, because it provokes that which it proclaims to repress. Take three countries with different approaches to recreational drugs: the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. The first two rely on a punitive approach. The Netherlands prefer harm reduction. As is notorious, Dutch citizens can openly enjoy cannabis in coffee shops. So does the Netherlands swarm with drug-crazed zombies? Look at the percentage of the population (15 to 64) who use cannabis annually. In the U.S., 13.7 per cent. In Canada, 12.6 per cent. In the Netherlands: 5.4 per cent. For every Dutch pot smoker, there are 2.3 Canadians and 2.5 Americans.
La revista Cáñamo, una publicación dedicada a la cultura del cannabis, ha realizado junto con su último número una edición especial titulada, “EXTRA PROHIBICIÓN: 50 años de sinrazón (1961 - 2011)” que analiza los motivos, causas y consecuencias de un prohibicionismo cada vez más cuestionado a nivel internacional. Desde su fundación, Cáñamo ha aportado al debate sobre políticas de drogas todos aquellos datos, argumentos e ideas que no tienen cabida habitualmente en la prensa tradicional.
Imagine an extremely expensive government policy proven to be completely ineffective at achieving its stated objectives. Consider also that whenever this policy is subjected to any kind of impact assessment, the government’s own data clearly show that the policy has been ineffective, expensive and fuelled the growth of organized crime. Finally, imagine this remarkable set of circumstances persisting for decades — at great cost to taxpayers and community safety — and yet elected officials say and do nothing to address the status quo.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Beckley Foundation published a public letter calling for a new approach in drug policy. The global war on drugs has failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide. Signed by a group of 60 major thinkers, Nobel Prize winners and celebrities including Sting, Yoko Ono and seven former presidents, this letter calls on members of the public and of Parliament to recognize that "improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time."
Para conmemorar el 50 aniversario de la Convención Única de 1961 sobre Estupefacientes, la Fundación Beckley publicó una carta pública para pedir un nuevo enfoque en la política de drogas. Firmado por un grupo de 60 pensadores, premios Nobel y celebridades como Sting, Yoko Ono, y siete ex presidentes, la carta pide a los miembros del público y del Parlamento de reconocer que "el mejoramiento de nuestras políticas de drogas es uno de los desafíos clave de nuestro tiempo. "
Durante un evento sobre ‘Reforma a la Política de Drogas’ que se está realizando esta semana en la Cámara de los Lores, el ministro del Interior, Germán Vargas Lleras, como ponente principal, manifestó que el Gobierno colombiano está abierto a una reforma global y sustancial en la política de lucha contra las drogas, y aclaró que de surgir cambios, estos se deben de realizar tras un proceso de reflexión serio y provenir de un acuerdo con las naciones que se ven afectadas con el problema de la droga.
In a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons, David Cameron said: "I ask the Labour government not to return to retribution and war on drugs. That has been tried and we all know that it does not work." That was in December 2002. And as a member of the home affairs select committee on drug misuse, Cameron supported the following recommendation: "That the government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways – including the possibility of legalisation and regulation – to tackle the global drugs dilemma."
Santos spelled out the radical ideas which he hopes will create a fresh approach. He said: "A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalising, and the world thinks that's the solution, I will welcome it. I'm not against it." But he is clear that any initiatives need to be part of a co-ordinated international plan of action and he rules out any unilateral action by Colombia. "What I won't do is to become the vanguard of that movement because then I will be crucified."
This contradicts one of the central tenets of the War on Drugs, which is that the psychopharmacological effects of drug use lead to criminal behavior. Most studies show that it's in fact the competition of an unregulated market that encourages the majority of violent crime. This concept was evidenced during the prohibition era in the 1920s, a time that coincided with an increase in crime, corruption, and contempt for law.
Tobacco rose and fell and rose and fell in a 400-year smoking spree that established a pattern for the trade in all addictive substances. Beginning with tobacco, governments have sought to ban drugs as soon as they arrive, invariably invoking their destructive effects on family and nation. Governments waffle between turning blind eyes to the criminals and fighting them bloodily. The ultimate ends of this process – legalisation, social stigma, and, most direly, unfashionability – suggest what will happen to the global market for marijuana and heroin.
João Castel-Branco, presidente del Consejo de Administración del Observatorio Europeo de las Drogas y las Toxicomanías (OEDT), subraya que los estupefacientes no son territorio exclusivo de los jóvenes y asegura que la familia resulta la herramienta "más eficaz" de prevención. "No hay que alimentar mitos ni posiciones moralistas. Hay que presentar con seriedad los males que acarrea su consumo sin mentir nunca", aconsejaba ayer poco antes de impartir en Bilbao la conferencia inaugural del congreso Familias, adolescentes y drogas, que se celebra en la Universidad de Deusto hasta mañana.
Anniversaries are always good to catalyize drug policy reform activities – and 2011 is very special anniversary. It is the 50th anniversary of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the first international treaty prohibiting (some) drugs. NGOs launched an international campaign to show the world that the war on drugs creates massive costs, resulting from the enforcement-led approach that puts organised crime in control of the trade.
New "legal highs" are being discovered at the rate of one a week, outstripping attempts to control their availability and exposing what some experts claim is the "ridiculous and irrational" government policy of prohibition. Given the plethora of new substances, the government's attempts to ban legal highs is not a "feasible" solution.
Reducir el consumo o la prevalencia no es un buen objetivo de la política antidrogas. Lo que sabemos sobre los efectos reales de esta política obliga a poner como criterio principal la reducción de daños. Debemos concentrarnos sólo en reducir las consecuencias adversas del consumo de drogas, tanto en el aspecto internacional como en los ámbitos nacionales. No es una opción, es lo único que podemos hacer.
The central statistic of Mexico's violent drug war – 40,000 gangland murders in the past five years – is repeated so often it almost fails to alarm us anymore. But what happened last Thursday, Aug. 25, in the northern business capital of Monterrey – 52 innocent people massacred after gangsters set fire to a casino, presumably in a drug-cartel extortion operation – left even President Felipe Calderón sounding distressed. So agitated, in fact, that drug-war analysts believe Calderón, in his speech the next day, signaled a change in philosophy and told the U.S. to think about legalizing drugs as a way of weakening vicious drug traffickers.
"Estados Unidos siempre termina por hacer lo que es justo, pero después de haber agotado todas las otras alternativas". Esta irónica frase de Winston Churchill puede ser útil para comprender la terquedad de ese país en mantener el prohibicionismo frente a las drogas, que es una estrategia injusta porque no protege la salud pública pero invade la autonomía individual y ocasiona sufrimientos sociales terribles e innecesarios.
War, as I came to report it, was something fought between people with causes, however crazy or honourable: like between the American and British occupiers of Iraq and the insurgents who opposed them. Then I stumbled across Mexico's drug war – which has claimed nearly 40,000 lives, mostly civilians – and all the rules changed. This is warfare for the 21st century, and another creature altogether.
Life is especially difficult for the 6 million drug addicts living in Russia because methadone is banned, and they are reluctant to use the few available needle and syringe exchange programmes for fear of being exposed. New drug laws are being drawn up by the Russian Government in its “total war on drugs”. These will go against the evidence-based treatments endorsed by organisations such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNAIDS, and WHO.