End War on Drugs – Ineffective Results – Kofi Annan
NEW YORK – Crimebeat – Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso called for an end to the war on drugs in an Op-Ed on CNN this morning. Citing the drug war’s funding of organized crime, the cruelty of treating addiction with incarceration and the ultimate ineffectiveness of current policy, the two called on leaders around the world to adopt an approach involving regulation that puts “people’s health and safety first” rather than one involving criminalization.
The editorial states, “Each year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world die from preventable drug-related disease and violence. Millions of users are arrested and thrown in jail. Globally, communities are blighted by drug-related crime. Citizens see huge amounts of their taxes spent on harsh policies that are not working.
“But despite this clear evidence of failure, there is a damaging reluctance worldwide to consider a fresh approach. The Global Commission on Drug Policy is determined to help break this century-old taboo. Building on the work of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, our first report — The War on Drugs — demonstrated how repressive approaches to containing drugs have failed”.
“For years we believed that if you enacted harsh criminal penalties, drug use and its attendant consequences would go down,” said Retired Narcotics Detective Russ Jones, who enforced drug laws everywhere from Latin America to China and the former Soviet Union and now speaks for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. “So we tried that, and it turns out not to be true. In fact, it turns out prohibition makes drug use that much worse because we don’t know the potency or purity of the product; dealers sell to anyone, including kids; and all of the money raised goes straight to organized crime. No one who studies this issue can believe prohibition has done much of anything but ruin a whole lot of lives unnecessarily.”
The article by Annan and Cardoso comes in the wake of countries the world over including Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands and even some West African countries successfully implementing drug policy reforms in recent years.