Thursday, June 02, 2011

Calling bullshit on the war on drugs

Forty years ago, President Nixon of the US coined the term "war on drugs", and ushered in a repressive policy of arrests, prosecution, and covert military adventurism. Forty years on, that policy is by any measure a failure. Despite billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of arrests, and tens of thousands of tons of seized drugs, drug use hasn't fallen (and in fact has increased in the past decade). And now, the Global Commission on Drug Policy - an ad-hoc collection of former politicians and UN officials dedicated to taking an evidence-based approach - is finally calling bullshit:

The global war on drugs has "failed" according to a new report by group of politicians and former world leaders.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy report calls for the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users.


Their report argues that anti-drug policy has failed by fuelling organised crime, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and causing thousands of deaths.

It cites UN estimates that opiate use increased 35% worldwide from 1998 to 2008, cocaine by 27%, and cannabis by 8.5%.

Rather than the current policies of repression, they advocate harm-minimisation, health treatment, and legalisation to undermine organised crime. Naturally, their conclusions have already been rejected by the US government, for whom the war on drugs (like the legality of torture and the undesirability of an effective international justice system) is an article of faith. And I expect it will be rejected by John Key as well. After all these are just the conclusions of "academics", and he can always find others...