A panel of top global narcotics experts fronted by prominent public figures including Kofi Annan, Richard Branson and eight ex-national presidents, is strongly urging that drugs be a matter for health professionals, not the police, in a new report.
“Overwhelming evidence points to not just the failure of the drug control regime to attain its stated goals but also the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies,” states the study, published by the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) this week.
“A new and improved global drug control regime is needed that better protects the health and safety of individuals and communities around the world,” the report says. “Harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies must be replaced by more humane and effective policies shaped by scientific evidence, public health principles and human rights standards.”
There have been previous groups that have advocated radical reform, and drugs panels that have been staffed with respected and sober politicians, but never have the two been combined to produce a body with such clout. Among its board members are the ex-presidents of Brazil, Chile, Switzerland, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Colombia, some of the countries with the most acute drug problems in the world.
The UN estimates that the number of drug users rose 18 percent from 203 million to 243 million between 2008 and 2012. In the past three decades, opium production has risen almost fourfold.
“The facts speak for themselves. It is time to change course,” said former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “We need drug policies informed by evidence of what actually works.”
The side effects of drug prohibition is a “thread” that runs through all of public life, the group says.