UN Office of Drugs and Crime Calls for Decriminalization

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime released a report yesterday calling for the decriminalization of casual and addict drug use and personal cannabis production.

After a preface regurgitating the same tired and defunct arguments against repealing prohibition, the Report itself provides significant evidence that a law-enforcement based approach to drugs has failed. The Beyond Prohibition Foundation hopes that this report represents a fundamental and progressive shift in the official position of the international organization and a step away from the failed “War on Drugs” paradigm.

“In recent months, the United States declared an end to its war-on-drugs approach. Now the international community has signaled that it, too, recognizes the failures of prohibition,” noted Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Tragically, as world opinion moves progressively forward, Mr. Harper’s Conservative government is taking Canada in the opposite direction. This puts us in the unwelcome and tragic position of being the last soldier left on the drug-war battlefield.”

The comprehensive 314-page UN World Drugs Report 2009 contains extensive data and commentary on the ineffectiveness of the current prohibition model and the need for alternative approaches, particularly when dealing with drug users and small-scale cannabis producers:

“it is rarely effective to imprison drug users. Casual users can be deterred by far less harsh sanctions…addicts must be helped to end their habit, through treatment or contingent release… Incarceration should be particularly aimed at violent offenders,effectively favouring more peaceful markets.”(Page 19);

“While incarceration will continue to be the main response to detected traffickers, it should only be applied in exceptional cases to users.”(Page 169);

“police need alternative avenues of response, particularly when confronted with non-priority cases of drug possession”(Page 167);

“Law enforcement can discourage large-scale plantations… but the point of diminishing returns is quickly reached in ferreting out smaller grows”(Page 174).

“The UN surveyed the evidence and concluded that criminalizing users and minor cannabis growers is ineffective. That sensible approach is more than we can say of the current government of Canada,” said Jacob Hunter, Policy Director of the Foundation, “Canadians deserve a government that accepts the truth when it hits them in the face, rather one which obstinately denies it while the world changes around it.”

Read the full text (PDF).

Kirk Tousaw, [email protected]
Jacob Hunter, [email protected]

– Article from WhyProhibition.ca