It is time to abandon the idea of a “drug free world”, according to a team of world political and business leaders.
Half a century of trying to rid the world of illegal drugs has simply built massive criminal empires, killed millions of people, wasted billions of government euro and increased the problems, the group states.
Next year, the United Nations will reflect on its drug policies — and now is the time to change them, says the Global Commission on Drug Policy —composed of business leader Richard Branson, former UN head Kofi Annan, former presidents of nine countries, and a raft of human rights, legal, and health specialists.
“It is time to recognise the harms caused by the illusion of the global goal of a drug-free world which would be achieved through prohibition and repression,” said Michel Kazatchkine, the UN secretary-generals’ special envoy on HIV/Aids. He has been counting the cost of the current drugs policy in Aids victims. The only way to go is to legalise drug use, and for the state to assume control, he and the commission say governments need to put people’s health first with policies designed to minimise and reduce the harm caused by drugs, such as making them available in controlled ways, and to regulate drug markets in the same way that alcohol and tobacco are.
Some countries have been moving in this direction with excellent results. But still others insist on tough penalties and continuing the war on drugs, despite the facts — and they’re frightening:
– The wholesale drugs market is worth more than the entire global market for cereals, wine, beer, coffee, and tobacco combined.
– Markup is massive — production worth €11.5bn; wholesale worth €83bn, and customer sales €290bn, in 2005.
– Fighting wars — €440m a year for those fighting along the Pakistan- Afghanistan border.
– Between 2008 and 2013, users worldwide increased by 18%, to 243m — one in every 20 people.
– Illegal opium production has increased from 1,000 metric tons to more than 4,000 since 1980.
– Heroin prices have fallen 75% since 1990, even as purity increased.
– The drug control system is unable to cope with the new psychoactive substances being produced daily.
– Money has been diverted from health care and crime fighting.
– HIV and other infections increased.
– Read the entire article at Irish Examiner.