The War On Drugs Is Officially A Failure

It looks like a bunch of important people from around the world finally saw the excellent movie Traffic, and decided to do something about the travesty that is the War on Drugs. So they formed a Global Commission on Drug Policy and today released a report spelling out just how ineffective the “War” is: after 50 years, drug use keeps going up.

The commission includes people like Robert Branson (who runs Virgin Airlines/Mobile/Galactic/etc), Kofi Annan (the former UN Secretary General), a former US Secretary of State, a former Prime Minister of Greece, and former Mexican, Colômbian, Swiss and Brazilian presidents; so the thing has some clout. Their recommendations:

  • end criminalization
  • start regulation
  • focus on prevention and treatment
  • replace policies that are based mostly on misguided ideology (e.g., “drugs are bad so if they’re illegal no one will take them”) with ones based on facts.

These findings prompted some logical reactions. The White House drug czar thought about it, caught a glimpse of a world in which he’d be out of a job and rejected the commission’s findings. The Mexican government thought about it, caught a glimpse of a world in which they wouldn’t be getting mountains of money from the US to “fight” the drug war and — wait for it — rejected the commission’s findings. Facts are so 1952. In the meantime, here’s a handy graph cited in the report showing just how much nonsense there goes into criminalizing drugs:

The darker the color of the drug, the more dangerous the UN thinks it is; the higher up on the chart, the more dangerous it actually is. It looks like heroin and cocaine are the only drugs the UN classified correctly. Alcohol is perfectly legal, but a lot more dangerous than marijuana, LSD and ecstasy. Even ritalin is more dangerous than ecstasy, and about the same as LSD. And tobacco is just slightly less dangerous than speed.

In fact, the only things more dangerous than alcohol are barbiturates, cocaine, and heroin. So logically, if alcohol is legal, everything below it should be legal also. Or conversely, alcohol should be illegal too; which would be a lot more consistent, except for the fact that we already tried making it illegal for 13 years with disastrous results and rampant increase in organized crime. Sound familiar?

But let’s not let facts get in the way of drug policy.

From The Global Commission On Drug Policy, via NPR and BBC


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  4. We can talk about the War on Drugs all we want, but until we wage war on the DEMAND for drugs, there will always be suppliers. No severity of consequence will stop people from making money supplying drugs, so the only effective means to curb this issue is to curb the demand. This means better education about drugs, addiction and alcoholism that must start at an early age and continue throughout life. People forget that addicition isn’t a selective disease – it is a human condition that has plagued our kind for thousands of years.

    But today, things could be different. With electronic media and the ease of communication it provides, we already have the best weapon possible in the War on Drug DEMAND, the question is, when will we start using it?

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