World Leaders Call for End to War on Drugs
The War on Drugs has proven to be a failure of epic proportions. Despite decades of prohibition, drug use has been constantly on the rise. With it rose the militarization of the police force, incarceration rates, and homicide rates. It’s a war against people.
After more than 50 years of mindless prohibition, it seems change might be on the horizon; a group of prominent world leaders has is calling for the end of the war. In fact, they are calling for a complete decriminalization of all drugs, not just cannabis.
The Tables Are Turning
A group of pioneering world leaders, including former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former US secretary of state George Shultz, are now calling for governments to implement legal and controlled regulation.
In a new report, titled “Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work”, the group outline how a paradigm shift is required in the way the globe views drug policy. Although long and detailed, the report says that “Ultimately, the most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of the global drug prohibition regime and advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation.”
It is an extremely encouraging development, and marks a huge turning point in established opinion. Rarely before has there been such a huge political backing for the end to the War on Drugs, and those behind it carry a lot of weight. The commissioners of the report have also met with the current UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in the lead up to the 2016 UN special session on drugs – in which the UN will debate and reassess global drug policy.
If embraced, the report could help world shift away from treating low level, non-violent drug offenders as criminals, as well as help abolish mandatory treatments, which have been shown to be ineffective for minor drug use – such as in the case of weed or psychedelics, where the user in most cases doesn’t want or need to be ‘rehabilitated’. It will help drug users be treated with support, much in the way a medical patient would be, instead of as someone who needs to be locked away and ‘forcefully corrected’ against their own will.
The current punitive methods are in theory meant to help and protect drug users. However, trying to impose a health based approach within a criminal justice system of enforcement doesn’t work, and has done much more harm than good. In July this year, also the World Health Organization stated that compulsory treatment for drug users should be banned.
A Strong Case
Decriminalization and state regulation have already shown to be very effective. The state of Colorado is a prime example, where the legalisation and state regulation of cannabis has resulted in a fall in crime, reduced underage drug abuse, and a huge increase in revenue taxes (all of which is money back into the economy and community, instead of into the hands of organized crime). Furthermore, the legalisation of cannabis allows people seek help and talk about its use openly without the fear of being prosecuted.
The War On Drugs Has Done Enough Damage
Although many governments would be loath to admit it, the War on Drugs has utterly failed. More drugs are being illegally produced than ever before, consumption is sky rocketing and the illegal black market is worth more than the alcohol, tobacco and coffee markets combined. The War on Drugs has failed to curb drugs at their source, and instead focuses on busting end users to make up statistics and numbers – leaving organized crime to run free and wrecking millions of lives in the process. Those who become addicted to hard drugs are treated like criminals instead of being given the help they need, and drug use has developed a very negative stigma, making it hard for people who want to get help talk about their problems.
Besides, the human toll of the war is enormous. Besides the millions of lives ruined by incarceration, thousands have died in the global battlefields of the war on Drugs. From South America over Asia to the Middle East, the drug war is one of the main drivers behind homicides.
A Long, Slow Road Ahead
Although the genie seem to have escaped the bottles, don’t get your hopes up for a change in global policy any time too soon. Things tend to happen at a snail’s pace at the UN, and a change in drug law would meet very stiff opposition by many countries. Specially, it will also meet massive opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, which is the main supporter and beneficiary of the war.
What is unjust will eventually end, and certainly we are approaching that moment. It’s just a matter of time.