Moral Low Ground


Former World Leaders Slam ‘War on Drugs’ & Call for Narcotics Decriminalization

A group of former world leaders declared the ‘War on Drugs’ an abject failure and issued a call for the decriminalization of narcotics.

According to Agence France-Presse, the group, called the Global Commission on Drug Policy, includes former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former US Secretary of State George Schultz and former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solano.

Billions of dollars wasted and millions of lives ruined fighting a harmless plant. (Photo: Jason White)

The group also includes Peruvian Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, famed Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, and British entrepreneur Richard Branson.

It issued a report which declared “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,” it said.

The report slammed the billions of dollars spent fighting the ‘War on Drugs,’ money that could have been far better spent on fighting diseases like HIV.

All the money spent, the report said, has “clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption.”

The UN estimates that opiate consumption rose 35.5% between 1998 and 2008. Cocaine use has soared 27% during the same period; marijuana use rose 8.5%.

The report asserts that high-profile busts of drug kingpins are nothing but public relations victories. “Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers,” it says.

The group urges easing prohibition of marijuana. Governments should “end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others.”

“Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations,” the report said.

“Decriminalization initiatives do not result in significant increases in drug use,” the report claims, citing Australia, Portugal and the Netherlands as examples of countries where decriminalization has been successfully implemented with no negative public health fallout.

The former leaders of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico know a thing or two about fighting drugs. Their opinions ought to carry much weight as countries consider their plans of action in the wake of the failed ‘War on Drugs.’

Current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has already signaled that he was considering a “new direction” in the drug war.

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