Fomer United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and Condoleeza Rice
An international panel of diplomats, including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan )pictured here with Condoleeza Rice) is saying the U.S. War on Drugs is a failure. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A panel of international statesmen and scholars, including Sir Richard Branson, has issued a report blasting the “War on Drugs,” or the global effort to restrict use of psychoactive substances. American drug policy was taken to task above all, as the U.S. leads efforts in this area.

Broadsides launched at US drug enforcement policy

The Global Commission on Drug Policy — a consortium of former statesmen and intellectuals, including Virgin business mogul Sir Richard Branson — has released a report blasting global drug enforcement policy, according to MSNBC. The drug policy of the United States was the focus; the U.S. plays a dominant role in shaping global drug policy. The 19-member panel included Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland, Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former Secretary of State George P. Schultz. Most panel members have been engaged as diplomats in some fashion. The report is especially critical of United States policy. While the U.S. does lock people up, it hasn’t made a dent in supply or demand for drugs, the report says.

‘The global war on drugs has failed’

The 24-page report begins with and repeatedly states that “The global war on drugs has failed.” The panel recommends decriminalizing marijuana as soon as possible to undermine criminal cartels. The Global Commission says drug policy, especially “zero tolerance” policies popular with U.S. politicians, has only fueled growth of the black market. The report also slams the policy of incarcerating addicts in need of medical treatment and recreational users that have harmed no one. Cesar Gaviria, one of the contributors and formerly the president of Colombia, said he and the rest of the panel hoped the U.S. would see reason and consider alternatives. Gavaria said American policy is not evolving toward the best interest of anyone, according to ABC. The current head of the U.S. Office of National Drug Policy, Gil Kerlikowske disagreed. Kerlikowske, the “drug czar” for the Obama administration, said through a spokesperson that the report was misguided.

Evidence is against current policy

Kerlikowske, according to CBS, last year admitted that U.S. drug policy doesn’t work. He said that “in the grand scheme” it was not effective and that any problems due to drug use among Americans are only getting worse, if not better. Information regarding prisons and prisoners alone indicates the “War on Drugs” isn’t being pursued in an entirely prudent manner. In the past 40 years, U.S. taxpayers have paid $121 billion for arresting 37 million offenders who weren’t violent and $450 billion incarcerating them. Possession arrests in 2007 were five times more common than sale or manufacture arrests. More than half of all federal prisoners in 2007 were imprisoned on drug charges.





Global Commission on Drug Policy:

Bureau of Justice statistics on Drug Crime:

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