World Leaders Explain How to Dig Our Way Out of the War on Drugs

The global war on drugs is the reason the US holds a quarter of the world’s prisoners but accounts for just five percent of the population. It is the reason millions of innocent people in Latin America have been killed and displaced by violent, powerful cartels. It is the reason marijuana remains illegal and demonized while science and reason tell us it’s safer than alcohol and has powerful medical value.

There are many disturbing characteristics of the war on drugs, but the worst is probably the fact that more than 40 years of dumping extreme amounts of money and law enforcement into criminalizing drugs has been ineffective. The use and distribution of illegal drugs remains steady, or climbing, worldwide. The war on drugs has failed.

For this reason, past and present leaders from 20 nations gathered in New York City on September 9 to release a new report calling for changes in global drug policy. The leaders make up the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Among the long list of members are former US Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the former presidents or prime ministers of Brazil, Switzerland, Colombia, Chile, Portugal, Poland, Greece and Mexico. Their report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work, calls for the decriminalization of all drug use and possession, and the legalized regulation of now-illegal drug markets. It calls for putting public health and human rights ahead of crackdowns and law enforcement.

Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso spoke first at the conference, highlighting the “enormous” waste of money and resources that have gone into the failed global drug war. He estimated the monetary costs to be around $100 billion each year, while rates of drug use and dealing remain steady.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.