Friday, June 3, 2011

Treatment Solutions Network Articles: Effectiveness of War on Drugs Being Questioned

Treatment Solutions Network Articles: Effectiveness of War on Drugs Being Questioned

Link to Treatment Solutions Network Drug Treatment and Recovery Articles

Effectiveness of War on Drugs Being Questioned

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 02:11 PM PDT

We might be on the edge of a new era of drug laws, according to recent reports. An international commission has publicly denounced the war on drugs and is calling for reform.

Global Commission’s Recommendations

The Global Commission on Drug Policy is made up of 19 former world leaders, including former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. The Commission released their report this week, and it immediately caused a stir. The Commission states that, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world”. (1)

A Failed War

Even after the U.S. issued the war on drugs decades ago and other countries have dedicated years to criminalizing drug possession, the rates of drug abuse have continued to climb. Rather than people heeding the drug laws, drug cultivators, manufacturers, traders, and dealers have found creative ways to hide their drug business from authorities, using highly sophisticated drug rings and blatant gang activity.

Now, the commission is encouraging governments to “break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternatives to drug prohibition,” according to former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria. (1) They are also promoting “experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens,” adding: “This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation.” (2)

Impact of Legalization

All this may sound a bit chaotic and experimental, and people may be worried about what effect this would have on our world.  Some countries already have decriminalization practices in place, and for other countries, it could take years for anything to come of these recommendations.

Legalizing certain drugs would have a bigger impact on some countries than others. However, the Commission’s report concludes that decriminalization initiatives do not result in significant increases in drug use.

One Step at a Time

For those countries moving toward legalizing drugs, the first step would be to decriminalize drug possession for people who use drugs but do not harm others. Not all drugs would become legal at once, and the Commission encourages countries to first consider legalizing marijuana before other drugs. A critical practice that countries will need to put into place is offering more treatment options for nonviolent cases, rather than jail time. This would free up the criminal justice system to focus on drug traffickers and violent organized crime. In addition, more time and energy can then go toward prevention programs and to address the harmful consequences of drug use.


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

(2) War on drugs has failed, say former leaders

Marijuana legalization: Is the war on drugs working?

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