熱 天 氣 Warm Weather

Drug War is a failure - Global Commission on Drug Policy

  Finally the international community is beginning to realize the drug war is a dismal failure.

The article says the full report is at this URL:



Global war on drugs a failure, high-level panel says


– Thu Jun 2, 7:58 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A high-level international commission declared the global "war on drugs" a failure and urged nations to consider legalizing cannabis and other drugs to undermine organized crime and protect their citizens' health.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy called for a new approach to reducing drug abuse to replace the current strategy of strictly criminalizing drugs and incarcerating drug users while battling criminal cartels that control the drug trade.

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," said the report issued by the commission on Thursday.

The study urges "experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs," adding: "This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation."

There are 250 million users of illicit drugs worldwide, with less than a 10th of them classified as dependent, and millions are involved in cultivation, production and distribution, according to U.N. estimates quoted in the report.

The study adds that decriminalization initiatives do not result in significant increases in drug use.

"Now is the time to break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternatives to drug prohibition," former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said.

The 19-member panel includes current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and former heads of state, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, British businessman Richard Branson and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

The commission said fundamental reforms were urgently needed in national and global drug control policies.

Additional recommendations:

-- Replace the criminalization and punishment of people who are drug users but do not hurt other people with the offer of health and treatment services to those who need them.

-- Countries that continue to invest mostly in a law enforcement approach should focus on violent organized crime and drug traffickers. [Duh! What idiots. If you legalize ALL drugs violent organized crime and drug traffickers will disappear almost overnight and the problem will be solved]

-- Promote alternative sentences for small-scale and first-time drug dealers as the majority of these people are not gangsters or organized criminals.

Other members of the panel include former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.

The report says "vast expenditure" had been spent on criminalization and repressive measures.

"Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use," it adds.

The commission's report adds that money spent by governments on futile efforts to reduce the supply of drugs and on jailing people on drug-related offenses could be better spent on different ways to reduce drug demand and the harm caused by drug abuse.

The full report is available at www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/Report.


High-profile panel urges non-criminal approach to world drug policy

The report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, was swiftly dismissed by the U.S. and Mexico.

By Ken Ellingwood and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times

June 1, 2011, 6:41 p.m.

Reporting from Mexico City and Washington— Calling the global war on drugs a costly failure, a group of high-profile world leaders is urging the Obama administration and other governments to end "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others."

A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, recommends that governments try new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to deny profits to drug cartels.

The recommendation was swiftly dismissed by the Obama administration and the government of Mexico, which are allied in a violent 4 1/2 -year-old crackdown on cartels that has killed more than 38,000 people in Mexico.

"The U.S. needs to open a debate," former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, a member of the panel, said by telephone from New York, where the report is scheduled to be released Thursday. "When you have 40 years of a policy that is not bringing results, you have to ask if it's time to change it."

An advance copy of the report was provided to The Times.

Three of the report's Latin American signatories, Gaviria and former Presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, made similar recommendations two years ago. Their views failed to change the enforcement-based approach that dominates drug policies worldwide.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, a conservative, has made the battle against drug cartels a centerpiece of his administration. Although the growing death toll has stirred widespread public dismay in Mexico, Calderon shows no sign of turning back before his six-year term ends next year. A poll on security matters released Wednesday found broad public opposition in Mexico to legalizing drug sales.

The U.S. government has backed the Mexican crackdown with law enforcement equipment, training and encouraging words from President Obama.

"Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe," said Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Although the Obama administration has emphasized a "public health" approach to drug policy, officials have taken a hard line against legalization.

"Legalizing dangerous drugs would be a profound mistake, leading to more use, and more harmful consequences," drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said this year. [Any government ruler with a title of czar isn't worth listening to]

Administration officials dispute the idea that nothing can be done to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States. A spokesman for the White House drug agency said U.S. consumption peaked in 1979, when surveys showed that 14% of respondents had used illegal drugs in the previous month. Now that figure has dropped to 7%.

"This is not a problem for law enforcement alone," Kerlikowske said in February at the George Washington University in Washington.

In its 2012 budget, the administration has requested $1.7 billion for drug prevention programs, a 7.9% increase from the previous year.

Administration officials have promoted the use of drug courts where judges can sentence offenders to treatment and other terms as alternatives to jail time. The White House also is working to expand reentry programs that aim to reduce recidivism rates by assisting the nearly 750,000 drug offenders released from prison each year to transition more easily back into communities.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who has examined U.S. drug policy, said the Obama administration has pushed the issue in a "considerably better direction. Nonetheless, she added, "a lot of it stayed at the level of strategy and rhetoric."

"If [Obama] is going to spend his political capital on something, it won't be drug policy," said Felbab-Brown, author of "Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs."

Gaviria, the former Colombian president, said he saw signs of a shift in opinion last year, when Californians voted on a ballot measure that would have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Although the measure failed, "people are changing their minds," he said.

The new report said the world's approach to limiting drugs, crafted 50 years ago when the United Nations adopted its "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs," has failed to cut the supply or use of drugs. The report, citing figures from the world body, said global marijuana consumption rose more than 8% and cocaine use 27% between 1998 and 2008.

The group cited a U.N. estimate that 250 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, concluding, "We simply cannot treat them all as criminals."

More treatment options for addicts are needed, the report said. And it argued that arresting and incarcerating "tens of millions" of drug-producing farmers, couriers and street dealers have not answered economic needs that push many people into the trade.

The assessment cited studies of nations, such as Portugal and Australia, that found decriminalizing the use and possession of at least some drugs has not led significantly to greater use.

The group's members include former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.

In Mexico, thousands have died in drug-related violence since late 2006, when Calderon deployed the military in a stepped-up fight against organized crime. Most of the deaths stem from turf wars between rival trafficking gangs.

Last month, tens of thousands took to the streets in Mexico City to protest the violence and demand an end to the drug war. Calderon says it would be irresponsible to give up the fight now.

Calderon criticized the legalization measure in California, saying it would undermine his government's crime fight. The Mexican president has said he is open to differing views on the issue but that it would be "absurd" to consider legalization in Mexico as long as narcotics are barred north of the border, where the massive demand determines the prices and profitability of the drug trade.

Other analysts reject the notion that curbing drug profits through legalization would cut overall crime, arguing that many violent trafficking gangs have broadened into other criminal activities, such as kidnapping, extortion and producing and selling pirated merchandise.



Ellingwood reported from Mexico City and Bennett from Washington.


Global leaders call for a major shift to decriminalize drugs

By Liz Goodwin liz Goodwin – Wed Jun 1, 2:49 pm ET

A slew of big-name former politicians are endorsing a report that says the war on drugs is not working and that drug enforcement policy needs to fundamentally change. The Global Commission on Drug Policy will urge a "paradigm shift" that emphasizes public health over criminalization tomorrow at a meeting in New York City, The Guardian reports.

Those backing the report include former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former Fed Chair Paul Volcker. Former elected leaders of Greece, Brazil and Colombia have also signed on. See the full list of backers here.

"What we have here is the greatest collection thus far of ex-presidents and prime ministers calling very clearly for decriminalization and experiments with legal regulation," Danny Kushlick, spokesman for the drug policy center Transform, told the Guardian. "It will be a watershed moment."

But, faced with the list of "formers" backing the new recommendation, The Lookout couldn't help but wonder: Where are all the current office-holders who think the drug war has been a failure?

Tom Angell, spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of former and current police officers against the criminalization of drugs, tells The Lookout he thinks sitting politicians will have to change their tune as American public opinion changes.

"I think as this debate continues to heat up and move forward you'll start to see more and more sitting elected officials endorsing fundamental reforms," he says. Even among LEAP's membership, most are retired law enforcement officers. Only a "handful" are active-duty cops, Angell says, in part because it's difficult for police officers to question the value of laws that they risk their lives to enforce every day.

Despite the political pitfalls of challenging drug policy, a few recent signs point to something of a bipartisan consensus forming on the issue. In April, an NAACP report that said states send too many young people to jail for non-violent drug offenses picked up surprising endorsements from former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist, the conservative activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform. The report said more than a quarter of the 2.3 million American prisoners are jailed for drug offenses, which bloats the system and eats up tax dollars. Christian talk show host Pat Robertson caused a stir in December when he endorsed on "The 700 Club" faith-based rehabilitation programs instead of jail time for drug use, and even appeared to support the legalization of marijuana. "I'm not exactly for the use of drugs, don't get me wrong," he said. "I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot--that kind of thing--it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people."

Public opinion polls show support is growing among Americans to legalize marijuana, but a majority still think the drug should be illegal. A greater share of Independents support its legalization than Democrats or Republicans.

The U.S. government has sent $1.4 billion in aid to Mexico and Central America to help fight the bloody war against the drug cartels. More than 35,000 people have died over the past four years in the drug-related violence. Drug cartels have turned to the use of narco-submarines and ultra-light aircraft to get their product to the U.S. market, in an effort to foil increased enforcement measures.



Warm Weather