Global Commission Declares War on Drugs a Failure

By Kellen Russoniello, George Washington Law School student, NORML legal intern
In the first sentence of a new report, current and former world leaders agree that “[t]he global war on drugs has failed.” They then call for drastic reform in both national and global drug policy. As the report recognizes, the current regime is a criminal justice and public health nightmare.
Released on June 2, 2011 by The Global Commission on Drug Policy, the report details the need for a new approach in drug policy. The Commission is comprised of nineteen current and former high-ranking policymakers from around the world, as well as experts in the field. Included in this committee are former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Switzerland, the current prime minister of Greece, former UN High Commissioners, and a former US Secretary of State.
The report lays out four core principles that should be the guideposts for developing national and international drug policies: Basing policy on scientific evidence; basing policy on human rights and public health principles; developing and implementing a globally shared drug policy that recognizes diverse political, social, and cultural realities; and pursuing drug policy through comprehensive means including both law enforcement and the citizenry.
Additionally, the Commission outlines eleven recommendations for developing a more rational drug policy. These include removing criminal penalties for drug use and developing effective treatment, prevention, and harm reduction programs.
Especially notable for NORML supporters is the Commission’s call for governments to experiment with the legal regulation of cannabis in order to cut down on violent organized crime and provide safety and security to citizens. The taxation and regulation of illegal drugs “is a policy option that should be explored with the same amount of rigor as any other.” The report also calls for examination of the scheduling system and the placement of cannabis in that system.
The other recommendations are designed to eliminate the dogma of current drug policy and the stigma on current drug users and sellers. Ultimately, the Commission recognizes the following:

[F]or every year we continue with the current approach, billions of dollars are wasted on ineffective programs, millions of citizens are sent to prison unnecessarily, millions more suffer from the drug dependence of loved ones who cannot access health and social care services, and hundreds of thousands of people die from preventable overdoses and diseases contracted through unsafe drug use.

For us, the points made in the report are not news: marijuana policy reformists have been making these arguments for almost three quarters of a century. But it is heartening to hear that such powerful figures in international policy are not only realizing the harm of prohibition, but openly speaking about that harm and calling for alternatives. Additionally, the report is getting massive news coverage. The Drug Policy Alliance reported that over 1,000 news stories about the Commission’s report have been published worldwide.
You can use this report to make a difference. Send a message to your legislators and urge them to read the report. Find your legislator here.
Also, check out Erik Altieri, Communications Coordinator for NORML, discussing the report in an interview with CBS-Pittsburgh.

67 thoughts

  1. I have no editing control, so my re[y is simply: “Thank you for giving everybody this topic on a weekend.”.

  2. Damn my reply has a typo: the word is “reply”. Blame it on Heineken.

  3. How is Obama going to get the vote of people who are informed about the war on drugs?
    His actions have proven that he is a staunch supporter of drug war and persecutor of MMJ patients.
    But he will probably get votes from alot of people who support MMJ and ending the war just because many people are uninformed, and Obama is good at deception.

  4. As I said – Americans are proud. How proud are we of the present administration? I’d put the fox in charge of the hen house before I’d put the present administration in charge of our Constitution. But then – we’ve got the best politicians money can buy – so! – what’s to worry about. Well! that which is held up with nothing – will fall.

  5. 40. Anonymous
    “Congress writes the law, not the President.”
    “Ya! – but – the DEA does – what the DEA wants to do – with a nod from the DOJ.” FLAG: The DEA made the “extract” of the natural whole plant material possible. It simply replaces the synthetic chemical THC. That stuff was no good anyway. I believe I heard that the patent on dronabinol was about to expire. Wait till ya hafta fill a prescription!$$$ BUT WAIT! – Natural THC being placed in schedule III relieves it of its restriction. But – “Big But” – by rescheduling to III – they also “open the door wide” for research [the money will be in research]. Based on past and present research and evidence – immediately submitted – from all sources of science – science will immediately justify THC’s newly achieved legality – as a pharmaceutical. Just think – insurance companies will now be able to cover the drug. It really is going legit in a big way. It’s all good! Personally I want the other 65 cannabinoids that accompany the whole plant material.
    Have a great CDXX Communion.

  6. Response to Jim Rogers, #46:
    You forget the “Cannabis Handbook”, presented when a president first becomes a President. It states (I have my sources) that cannabis is to be null and void topic of debate, of consideration for legalization, and not in the interest of the American objective.”
    If true, President Obama has no choice but to ignore lobbying to legalize cannabis. President Jimmy Carter tried, along with home brew beer and wine (which had been illegal to produce under the 18th amendment until the 1970’s… a minor oversight with repeal of the 18th!
    I remember that day in 1976 when President Carter legalized homebrew and cannabis. The former passed. The latter raised a hellstorm of protest within establishment, most notably, Congress and the DEA.
    It may be “The American Way”, as Jim Rogers suggests, but it’s not the American Way set up by the US Constitution.
    President Obama does need the cannabis community to get reelected… or he could shirk his responsibilities as President, invoking a “science-based” government, and cater to the still powerful “moral majority”, of which many have also witnessed the destruction the drug war has wrought.
    It’s the 21st Century… time to grow up as a country, time to put Prejudice aside, Special Interests in their place, Help the church and our Religious Underpinnings, and Respect the US Constitution… which clearly contradicts the current policies on cannabis and other God given plants.

  7. If there’s a dirty war in Mexico, the DEA is automatically implicated, thanks to Michele Leonhart bragging that mass murder is a sign of a successful drug policy.
    But we won’t know if there is a dirty war until someone with authority can investigate.

  8. It is about time the words are spoken out loud again!
    Global commission “Declare War on Drugs are a failure”, no, I thouht the goverment was doing this because of the money. Now we need to get rid of the people in charge of this War on Drugs. What a silly war, drugs of all things. Only certain drugs is there a war on. The war on drugs, should be perscription drugs. They kill more people than marihuana!!

  9. American rulers have a history of following Joseph Gobbels (Nazi Propandist) when it comes to making ‘citizens’ follow a Judas Goat.
    Just one example is how Cannabis/Hemp became illegal. Not only was Randolph Hearst involved in that episode but he was also involved in the ‘yellow journalism” over the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine.
    “It is not such a great accomplishment, to make the people do your bidding; all you have to do is take a Big Lie reduce it to the intelligence of the lowest understanding among the people, repeat and repeat it until it is accepted as Truth, then tell the people that our way of life is under attack and denounce those that oppose as aiding the enemy. It doesnt matter whether it’s a democracy or dictorship…it works anywhere”.
    Then again, maybe that bit of psychology is a universal principle.

  10. With all the death and destruction that can be credited to Obama, even if he announced he would legalize MJ after being elected for a second term (a ‘lame duck’), I still could not in good conscience vote for him. I’ve been sitting around stoned for his first 4 years, and watched what he’s done. Not all that fun. He’s a lying sack of excrement, and he needs to go. Give him 4 more years, and the country is done. I sure as hell didn’t fight in VietNam, so he could come along and screw everything up.

  11. 1. Again, Congress writes the laws, not the President.
    2. I admire Gary Johnson for preaching to the heathens instead of to the choir, I would even vote for him in the primaries (and since I’m a lifelong anti-Republican that’s a huge compliment to Gary), but he won’t be on the ballot. Alone among Republican aspirants, he wasn’t invited to the New Hampshire debates. They invited the three stooges, Newt, Sarah and Trump. They invited Santorum and Pawlenty whose poll numbers are no better than Johnson’s. They invited the pizza guy. They even invited Huckabee Daniels and Christie who have already said their not even running. But Gary Johnson, a former Govenor, who would be a Tea Party darling on every other issue is frozen out. Now why is that. (Maybe we could put some of that online energy we flood White House .org with to use on the CNN message board, tell them as a Republican voter you have no intention of watching any Republican debate sans Gary Johnson)
    Everyone else in my family is a rabid anti-Democrat and I love them dearly. I have a lot of republican friends (believe it or not) a lot of whom aren’t above sharing a doobie with me. I respect their different beliefs and they respect mine. I’m sure there are a lot of issues you support the Republicans on, but MJ reform should not be one of them. When they talk about individual liberties, small govt. or states rights, their not talking about the right to weed. Ask them yourself. I’ve watched Politics since 1976 (I’m 48) and here’s how I see it. With the Democrats in power we may by Herculean effort win an occaisional small concession (football is won more by gaining short yardage than by long bombs), provided the Democrats can say they were looking the other way at the time. As soon as the Republicans get back in power all those small gains will be repealed. ( Look whats happening in Canada and ther Netherlands right now, Conservatives are in Cannibis is out) Maybe it will be different in the future but that’s how the history book reads. At least the one where Paul Revere was on our side. I told the Democrats to kiss my ass in 96, 2000 and 04 (I voted for Nader) precisley because the Democrats refused to distance themselves from the war on some drugs to any appreciable degree. I’m dissapointed in Obama too, But let’s recall what the big 3 had to say in 2008.
    QUESTION – As president what would you do about Federal Medical Marijuana raids in states that have voted legal MM.
    Obama – “I can find better things for law enforcement to do.”
    McCain – “Nothing”
    Clinton – ” Oh we’ll just have to see about that”
    Those of you who had mommies might remember what that last one meant.
    Again hats off the those Republicans on our side.
    1. Gary Johnson, who once stated it better than I ever could. “The first man over the hill gets shot.”
    2. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, truly couragous.
    3. Richard Brookhiser Editor of National Review, the best allie we have.
    Sorry but Ron Paul is only against the Federal drug war not State drug wars. ( see 2008 endorsement of Constitution party) Since I live in what would be the 57th state to legalize MJ that doesn’t help me much, but Kudos to Ron Paul anyway.
    4. Your name here, If your a Republican who likes MJ.
    I’ve said it before, if your a Republican who likes weed, you might haved to make a very hard choice, Republicans or weed, No you can’t have both, unless you live in Dana Rohabachers district, then more power to you.
    If your a Democcrat who likes weed, your prohibitionist Democrat is going to call asking for donations and votes. If said Democrat isn’t appreciably better than their Republican opponent on MJ, I’m going to say “Sorry, re-election is not in my vocabulary”. They’ll know what you mean (although they’ll pretend they don’t.
    Once upon a time their was a Special Interest group who petitioned the Govt of the United States for grievances but had no money to bribe politicians with and didn’t vote. They wanted the U.S. govt to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do. We call them Apaches.

  12. Where Are You
    Have You Seen The War
    I Say Free Cannabis
    May ‘We Begin
    To End the drug war

  13. @”Anonymous” #62: A lot said! Seems especially good intentions, with a fair amount of experience and insight. However, 1) You’re not old enough to remember Nixon-McGovern. I’m was barely 18 and it was my first vote as an American… I knew Nixon was wrong!!! I knew McGovern was right. Beyond that, I had not a kernel of experience to know what happened then would have a profound impact on the future of a Free America.
    2) I live in NH… Ron Paul was here. He is VERY POPULAR. Gary Johnson might be also if he didn’t wait for an “invitation” – he won’t get a politically correct invitation that is.
    3) Make up a web-name if you’re going to espouse your wisdom. “Anonymous” is 50 pts. off right away.
    I’m not a politically educated sort, but it seems to me with CA having to let go of 146,000 low risk prisoners – pot users most likely, that this should be a wake-up call to the House of Representatives, which as I understand it represent the people. I would suggest urging your Representative to sponsor and support a bill of “No Confidence” in the current Status Quo”. The problems with the Economy, coupled with policies and laws that are quite outdated and destructive, requires a sweeping change to the way government is run, the laws on the books, the penalties, and just who exactly go to prison.
    Pot users??? I think that is extremely Barbaric. Do you know how many plants God gave us that have physical and psychological effects? Neither do I, but I can tell you there are many that are on the fringe, and what happens when they are discovered by the DEA? Are they GOD… able to outlaw every plant save two???
    Hops, and Tobacco.
    Let’s BAN and put anyone in possession of hundreds of others in jails and prisons.

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