The Mercury

Global war on drugs ‘a failure’

CALL TO CONSIDER NEW APPROACH

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AHIGH-LEVEL internatio­nal commission declared the global “war on drugs” a failure and urged nations to consider legalising cannabis and other drugs to undermine organised crime and protect their citizens’ health.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy called for a new approach to reducing drug abuse to replace the current strategy of strictly criminalis­ing drugs and incarcerat­ing drug users while battling criminal cartels that control the drug trade.

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastatin­g consequenc­es for individual­s and societies around the world,” said the report issued by the commission yesterday.

The study urges “experiment­ation by government­s with models of legal regulation of drugs”, adding: “This recommenda­tion applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiment­s in decriminal­isation and legal regulation”.

There are 250 million users of illicit drugs worldwide, with less than a 10th of them classified as dependent, and millions are involved in cultivatio­n, production and distributi­on, according to UN estimates quoted in the report.

The study adds that decriminal­isation initiative­s do not result in significan­t increases in drug use.

“Now is the time to break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternativ­es to drug prohibitio­n,” former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said.

The 19-member panel includes current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and former heads of state, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, British businessma­n Richard Branson and former US secretary of state George Shultz.

The commission said fundamenta­l reforms were urgently needed in national and global drug control policies.

Additional recommenda­tions were:

Replace the criminalis­ation and punishment of people who are drug users, but do not hurt other people, with the offer of health and treatment services to those who need them.

Countries that continue to invest mostly in a law enforcemen­t approach should focus on violent organised crime and drug trafficker­s.

Promote alternativ­e sentences for small-scale and firsttime drug dealers as the majority of these people are not gangsters or organised criminals.

The report says “vast expenditur­e” had been spent on criminalis­ation and repressive measures.

“Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/Aids, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequenc­es of drug use,” it adds.

The commission’s report adds that money spent by government­s on futile efforts to reduce the supply of drugs and on jailing people on drugrelate­d offenses could be better spent on different ways to reduce drug demand and the harm caused by drug abuse. – Reuters

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