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. Providence, R.I. — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder suggested Thursday that the Justice Department will work with governors and other states to reach a satisfactory resolution of the establishment of dispensaries that sell marijuana to patients in state-sponsored medical marijuana programs.
    “We are in the process of working these issues with the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island and other U.S. attorneys across the country,” he said. “My hope is that something in the not too distant future …. will be addressed.”
    Holder’s cautious comments came during a news conference at The Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence in the city’s South End. He toured the recently refurbished facility on Oxford Street with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse; Peter F. Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, and state Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
    Afterward, Holder appeared at a news conference where he was peppered with questions about the Justice Department’s position on dispensaries, also known as compassion centers, that sell marijuana to patients who smoke marijuana to deal with chronic pain and other debilitating ailments

  2. I would think that the most important first step would be ,to have marijuana declared under the food and drug act the same as coffee, tea, chocolate.As caffiene is some help to asthma patients and helps in deppression in small quanities and chocolate releases “feel good” hormones in the system. In my opinion marijuana in small quanities also can be very benificial, in relaxation.

  3. I think one thing we need to do is to ask Congress to investigate the mass murders down in Mexico. Mexico is a country with a history of “dirty war.” Since Americans are funding the Mexican Army’s drug enforcement efforts, we should make sure those guys haven’t given in to the same old temptations that led them to form death squads and assassinate leftists back in the 1970s.
    It seems hard to believe that profit-motivated criminals would slaughter each other in such large numbers. This situation demands more transparency than the Mexican government has provided. We should demand that Congress investigate this situation and hold hearings on our policy down there.

  4. The studied tactic by U.S. PSYOPS is to tell a lie, tell it often, tell it with no acknowledgement of contary truth. This is a result of millions of dollers and millions of hours, from the 1960’s, when a doller bought four gallons of gasoline. The use of these studies in political and international manuvering of opinion and policies has succeeded in fiscal bankruptcy couple with devolution of moral correctness.
    Prohibition only creates chaos and corruption.
    What is more corrupt and depraved than the American penal system ? Only the American abandonment of our founding LAWS in the adherence to our Constitution.
    We allowed this to happen, we must now restore the order of LAWS, not dollers to already wealthy and greedy entities.
    VOTE DEMOCRATIC, send the T’s and the R’s a message , “YOU R FIRED”

  5. i have been waiting for 35 years for this! thank god that world leaders are finally realizing how much damage prohibition has CAUSED!! they are starting to look at it as a health issue instead of a criminal issue which is how it should have been done in the first place!

  6. As great as this sounds, I highly doubt the privatized prisons and DEA will ever let the status quo change. They have to much invested in making drugs illegal so they can keep their pockets lined with tax payer money.
    Remember, Sorry for being such a downer : /illegal drug trade is big business, but so is the prosecution and imprisonment of the sellers and users.
    Sorry for being such a downer : /

  7. @5
    The government has done many bad things, but as I was a 37F (PSYOP Specialist) in the US Army, I can assure you that the Army is not used to spread propaganda in the US against our own citizens. It’s actually a violation of UCMJ to do so.
    The liers in this war are the office of national drug control policy, and the dea (along with a ton of private organizations like partnership for a drug free America).

  8. With a government like ours who needs enemies, they’ve known all along what they’ve been doing to the American people.I don’t think they will ever admit to it though.What a bunch of assholes,their war against us has almost destroyed our country,they take the one thing that people enjoy the most and use it against us.Starting with Nixon, then Reagan, the asshole who really gutted the American dream with his Federal random drug testing invasions.The hatred I feel for those assholes is well justified,Barack, if you’re listening, now is the time for you to step up to the plate and hit a home run for the American people,end this injustice,it’s way overdue.Can anyone tell me how many jobs have been shipped out of the country the last thirty years, how many jobs have gone to foreigners who come here to steal our jobs (visas), and how many Americans have been eliminated from the American workforce for refusing to go along with this unconstitutional republican drug testing program.There are quite a few Democrats who went along with this also,just follow the votes.It’s so hard to believe it’s went on this long,What is it going to take to end this injustice, Is our Congress finally going to end it? That’s funny is’nt it.Maybe the supreme court (rats) will help us.ha ha

  9. I noticed how the story mentioned that multiple news sources have picked up the story. I went to USA Today yesterday and they had a story up on it, but they froze out the comments section for a long time because they don’t like free thinking people saying “I told ya so” and challenging narrow-minded idiots to debates. USA Today however will print in bold headlines anything bad about marijuana and let stupid people blog about it all day long.

  10. Mr Doyle, That is good info. We can fight that misinformation by demanding this simple definition of marijuana which actually shows respect for our Constitution.
    16. The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts
    of the smoke produced by the combustion
    of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

  11. The fact that it is endorsed by mostly former leaders instead of sitting presidents shows that most current leaders are afraid to admit that the war on drugs is a failure. But this is a huge step in the right direction. Even if nothing more than a symbol, this report suggests that we are closer than ever to seeing a real shift in drug policy worldwide.

  12. I will not hold my breathe but i sincerely hope that things will finally start to change. i am tired of good Americans who smoke a flower being thrown in prison and forced into a life of crime due to their prior convictions. for example marijuana possession good luck finding a job with that on your record…

  13. This is a cause that must be championed by the people..our leaders will never in mass hop on the cannabis band wagon. Start with the hearts of your family and friends..trusting in a movement alone, to change everything is not starts and ends with you..thanks

  14. Maybe that dripping tap just started to drip a little faster. Certainly a good thing to throw in the face of those who maintain prohibition does some good. It also gives the politicians a tantalising way to balance their budgets in these hard pressed times :- less enforcement costs and new streams of tax revenue – very tempting if they can justify the change !

  15. Don`t fool yourself. These policy makers knew the drug war was a big failed joke long age. They took the way of preWW11 Germany when the citizens were being rounded up and slaughtered. The “other” citizens looked the other way and buried their heads in the sand with their bungs pointed towards the sky.Look around WE ARE IN A POLICE STATE.

  16. On the other hand!
    Could this be yet another piece of the puzzle – for global domination of cannabis – but – especially the hemp market. What pieces do already recognize in the big puzzle?
    1. No organic seed [Monsanto].
    2. No home grow.
    3. DOJ Memo 02.09.11, and strict federal enforcement.
    4. Big Pharma’s approval [55 pharmaceutical companies] to extract natural THC from the whole plant material.
    5. The whole plant material remaining a schedule I substance – while the extract being a schedule III substance – as is the synthetic dronabinol. [Since when does the clone get top billing].
    6. Governmental suppression of favorable laws towards legalization.
    “It’s all about” global domination and control of a plant. Can anyone add a piece to this puzzle?

  17. Now all you have to do is use this declaration to get the international law/treaties against cannabis changed so that countries who want to legalize are not forced to hold back progress by threat of loss of international aid or of sanctions. Make sure it takes away the excuse of some governments basically that they accept the science but won’t because it’s against international treaties so it’s not worth the work.
    Get W.H.O. to get out of the way. Get the international drug czar/E.U. drug czar out of the way of progress, too.

  18. “It’s all about.”
    I now come to appeal to “all human beings” on this planet[Genesists or not] that “believe” in God and God’s Sacrament – to place your intents and purposes in your religion. Religion will be our salvation. If – whatever you want to call them – think they have a hard time defending their “unjust law” – they will have “NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER” defending their law or themselves against God, and we who believe and trust in our Faith. God gave us free will as individuals! God denies anyone who would deny us that gift and our individuality. I feel in my heart and soul that God is stalking those prohibs right this very minute. This not a sermon – it’s a plea. Whatever your religion [or ism] – it’s the rock upon which we stand. If we step off that rock – we will surely fall forever. Let thoe who disagree with God – argue with God – and -see where they get! They have broken his law – and – now they must answer to him – not only as a Final Judgment – but – as an immediate violation and sentence.

  19. Gee wiz….duh. Tell us something we don’t already know. “War” on anything never works and never will. I have been a Clinician in Maximum Security Prison and Mental Hospitals for 25 years. And you are correct Sir “Ogre” Dea and Correctional Officer’s Union are indeed very strong. It’s going to be a fight for sure. Because? Put it this way. The poor, drug addicted, mentally Ill criminal is the population “they” (CDCR and DMH CA. and Fedrally) put in these institutions.
    So, if we move to a model of Treament and not punishment, these inmate numbers will drop like a rock and hence lower jobs ratios for Institutions who house the popultaion we speak of. If ya’ll want the facts and not lip service go to these sights>

  20. Holy Smokes. Amother positive report by thinking and reasonable people only to be poopoo’d by the DEA and and DOJ.
    The Rev.sLeezy

  21. thank you norml for providing this information. i have written my state officials concerning this. i miss dearly the benefits of consuming this awesome herb and, have had enough of these silly assed,private life inhibiting laws we must live by. the more i am not allowed to consume cannabis, the more pissed off i get. my government will not drive me to drink. finally, people my be starting to see the truth. thank you again norml.

  22. If you go to, Obama won’t even allow comments on drug policy. There’s no space on the form.
    We need a drug reform protest vote in 2012 to wipe this idiot from office. All we have to do is find another Nader and make Obama a one term president.
    I have a feeling there’s a dirty war in Mexico and Obama knows it.

  23. @8 Ogre: I don’t think you’re being a downer so much as being a realist… Hilary Clinton said that we can’t legalize marijuana because there’s too much money in it… However, I just have to believe that in spite of our American leaders that this Global Commission will ultimately help in bring about a positive change. America, once known as “The Land of the Free” needs to free up a few congressmen and senators from their jobs!

  24. @30 Patricia – Your comment is a pet-peeve of mine! Obama has been one of the hugest dissapointments of my life. So many of us believed in him only to have act like a prohibitionist republican. He needs to go – bad!
    I hope we get to choose from real people like Gary Johnson or Ron Paul the next presidential election instead of politicians like Obama, Romney, or Gingrich…

  25. Just watch. Obama will file this in the same place as Nixon did the Schaffer report. If they don’t like what they hear, they didn’t hear it.

  26. It is time for Eric Holder to decide, is he worried about his social and economic position, I wonder
    In that meantime, Justice will find you Eric, on that dusty trail where the low will become great warriors and heroes, I say Free Cannabis
    Become Whole

  27. Sadly if you read what american news has said about this report, it appears as if they didn’t even read it. They give you a few lines and then jump to some official saying the exact opposite. They don’t give you any of the numbers from the report. The worst thing is that despite the report stating that where marijuana has been legalized that rates of use have not gone up, they still jump the the Drug Czar quote saying the opposite. Its just sad….

  28. Establishment Clause.
    “Without exemption [circumscription – qualification] no person(s) shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
    Genesists are free to profess and maintain their opinion in matters of religion, and in no wise diminish, enlarge, or effect their civil capacities. Genesists shall not suffer on account of their religious opinions, beliefs or practices; for whosoever would stand on a Genesist’s path of religious freedom [individual freedom] and rattle their sword, such act provokes “infringement of the natural rights of mankind,” the privileges and advantages to which in common with our brethren we have a natural right.
    I so declare: I am a Genesist. I claim religious use of my Sacrament – and – I invoke a “Conscience Clause” A Conscience Clause is a law exempting those whose religious or moral principles forbid compliance – and – which compels Genesists to oppose and resist any law that denies us our Faith and Sacrament. On this there is no negotiation or compromise.
    Those who maintain this same Declaration – please join we Genesists in this simple, but profound statement of intent. Please do so by putting a capital G behind you posted name.

  29. The reason Holder is forced to clarify his positon on medical marijuana is because his words have been totally at odds with his actions.
    While Holder SAYS that medical dispensaries and patienta will not be targeted, the raids continue. He even has the gall to send threatening letters to medical marijuana states, forcing lawmakers to shutdown and turn patients away.
    I predict that Holder will craft a carefully worded statement that will make it sound like he will stop presecuting MMJ patient and caregivers, while he contiues to do just that.
    Only the President could end the Drug War and disband the Drug Army, and Obama, having already been outed as a hypocrite on this issue, will continue to avoid discussing it.

  30. Some good news I just learned from the Teapot Party today!
    Next up, we need to put some in the White House who will keep his promises! First, he needs the nomination and for that he needs name recognition! Help, Gary Johnson and sign the petition linked to by my name. The full link is posted in my earlier comment! Don’t let this voice of liberty be silenced!

  31. As a war veteran I am grateful that the VA has nothing against Medical Marijuana and those of us who have a prescription will not be hassled,and they held that up good.
    So if the VA recognizes the beneficial aspects of MM and they are a BIG part of our govt,what then is the hold up? I have many many times contacted my elected officials to have them change the damn laws,some progress has been made.
    The Obama administration is looking towards re-election.With the outright lies he told during his campaign,his so-called directive to Holder to back off on legal MM,and Holder’s opposite actions to that directive,I can see where for political points,he might just okay MM and dispensaries.JMHO,and wish’s.

  32. NORML should start an email campaign to get Congress to investigate Mexico. Those 38,000 homicides happened on our dime. We should demand more transparency regarding those murders than the Mexican government and military have provided so far. There’s a bad history down here, and Michele Leonhart’s depraved rhetoric plays into that bad history all too well. Congress needs to lift up the rock down there and see what crawls out, because we helped fund it and we have a right to know exactly what it is.

  33. The real question is? When will Obama realize that, without the cannabis community he has no chance of being reelected.It really is sad that the minds of our officials think so small when it comes to such a large problem,but that’s the American way.
    To ignore the Hemp plant,for example,shows how little power the President has when confronted by the powerful grain, wood ,chemical,oil, and BIG PHARMA lobbies. Even if Obama knew he had no chance of getting reelected,he still won’t admit that the need for the weed is as important for our well being,as knowledge itself.

  34. OGRE, #8, has a point.There IS too much invested already in this culture war against alternative sources of relaxation, health and well-being.
    The fact that cannabis is “being considered”, that it’s medicinal use is being looked at means little. Neither distilled spirits, tobacco or beer has much in the way of medicinal qualities. Wine maybe.
    If “science” is to be the judge of the status of “recreational drugs”, then the DJ and the DEA would have to seriously consider the lax sale of alcohol and tobacco, as compared to the safer alternative, cannabis.
    Don’t hold your breath!
    As for it being regulated by the FDA like coffee, tea and chocolate, the FDA doesn’t regulate those products. There are an extremely few natural herbs and products the FDA or anyone regulates.
    And last… Patricia #4 should be taken seriously. As Robert P. Doyle Sr. #5 states: “The studied tactic by U.S. PSYOPS is to tell a lie, tell it often, tell it with no acknowledgement of contary truth. ”
    Politics is all about manipulating and warping the truth. However the old stomping ground proclaiming hard on crime is hard on drugs is over. Anyone with a reasonable mind can see the damage being done by our current drug policies. It lacks science, and stinks of special interests.
    Cannabis should be available at your local health food store, taxed as a herbal commodity. Maybe, specialty cannabis, hybrids and high THC varieties could be sold and taxed like alcohol and tobacco. But that’s a stretch, as cannabis really is simply a beneficial herb, and plant of many virtues.

  35. Thank you for letting us know that cannabis news is not limited to week days news. I love it!

  36. Just to rephrase my last statement because proper grammar has never been my greatest strength under such emotional feeling of gratitude that the news came on a weekend.

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