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Time to end “war on drugs” and the “one-size-fits-all approach” says academic report

Tuesday, May 6th 2014 - 07:44 UTC
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Global efforts to thwart the drugs trade have failed and the time has come for a radical rethink, according to a group of Nobel-prize winning economists, a former US secretary of state, the deputy prime minister of Britain and others.

 “It is time to end the 'war on drugs' and massively redirect resources towards effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis,” the group said in a foreword to a new academic report on global anti-drugs policies.

Citing mass drug-related incarceration in the United States, corruption and violence in developing countries and an HIV epidemic in Russia, the group urged the United Nations to drop its “repressive, one-size-fits-all approach” to tackling drugs.

The UN is due to hold a drug policy summit in 2016. Debate on the merits of drugs liberalization is already growing.

”(The UN) must now take the lead in advocating a new cooperative international framework based on the fundamental acceptance that different policies will work for different countries and regions,” the foreword said.

Signatories of the text included five Nobel-prize winning economists - among them Kenneth Arrow, Christopher Pissarides and Thomas Schelling - as well as former US secretary of state George Schultz, British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Javier Solana, a former European Union foreign policy chief.

It accompanied a report on the impact of global anti-drug policies published by the London School of Economics.

Some countries in Latin America have begun to turn away from US-led attempts to stamp out drugs through prohibition.

Uruguay's parliament in December allowed the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana. Colombia's president has called for a debate on alternatives to the war on drugs. And Guatemala's president has said his country could present a plan to legalize production of marijuana and opium poppies this year.

Voters in the US states of Colorado and Washington passed backed legalizing the possession and use of recreational marijuana in 2012.

The LSE report listed ways that efforts to defeat the drugs trade have failed, including research that found that a crackdown on cocaine trafficking in Colombia might account for as much as 46% of the increase in drug-related murders in Mexico as the trade shifted north.

It also cited estimates that drug offences were responsible for about 40% of the 9 million people incarcerated around the world.

Top Comments

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  • Briton

    I don't think it has failed,
    I think government corruption , and incompetence has failed,

    dealers get a slap on the wrist, and the kingpins, when you can find them, they make a mockery in court with their corrupt clever lawyers,

    our own security at the docks and airports are a joke at best, crime havens to corruption at worse,

    I say start at the top, and work your way down, and you may well have better success, rather than starting at the bottom, and having those in power stand on it.
    just my opinion.

    May 06th, 2014 - 11:30 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    “It is time to end the 'war on drugs' ..“

    Well, I guess that if the whole world ended the 'war on drugs' the world might be a better place ... you know, with the whole world being managed like it was a Brasilian favela by the guys that do the drug thing. Nobody would feel excluded!

    There should be no hiding place for those that say ”Drugs are bad; don't do it”! - and songs like White Lines (Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel) should be globally re-released with the revised refrain “..and if you get hooked, baby, its nobody else's fault - so DO IT”!

    It would stop the people of the world from being 'tied to the man' and having to go to work each day. Everybody would simply hand over their Social Security check to the local supplying manager, keeping everybody with a buzzin' in their ears until the next month's check arrives for monthly top-up to the national drug-exchequer.

    It cuts out the middle men and feeds the cash straight to our (politician) over-lords.

    May 06th, 2014 - 11:47 am 0
  • Heisenbergcontext

    Some interesting facts courtesy of CNN:

    Between 2006-2012 60 000 people have died in Mexico as a consequence of that nations drug war.

    There are approximately 6 700 licensed firearm dealers in the U.S. along the U.S./Mexican border. There is only one licensed firearms dealer in Mexico.

    Nearly 70% of guns recovered from Mexican criminal activity between 2007 & 2011, and traced by the U.S. Govt., originated from sales in the United States.

    90% of the cocaine that enters the U.S. enters via Mexico.

    Mexican drug cartels take in between $19 & 29 billion annually from U.S. drug sales.

    Columbia's FARC has a number of income streams, the most lucrative being the taxing ( originally ) and control ( from the early '90's ) of a significant portion of Columbia's cocaine export market. This is a significant part of the reason why this organisation is still functioning.

    None of the above would have occurred if the United States, initially, and much of rest of the Western world, subsequently, was willing to take responsibility for it's insatiable need to escape reality, of which drugs are only one part.

    The 'war on drugs', which has inflated prices to the extent that staggering numbers of people were willing to risk their lives, and take the lives of others out of a desire to get rich quickly - is an unmitigated failure, as were it 's antecedents. And until the institutions that prosecute this war come to an understanding of the sources of addiction ( the first step in taking responsibility ) will remain a failure.

    May 06th, 2014 - 02:11 pm 0
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