A New Beginning on Drug Policy

The drug problem is one of the most important challenges facing the hemisphere, with its impact on public health and the cost incurred by states, and with the tremendous amount of violence that it brings.
José Miguel Insulza. OAS Secretary General

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States released a report that considers possible alternatives to current drug policies internationally and represents the most high-level discussion about drug law reform ever undertaken.

The report envisions possibilities for ending the war on drugs as well as the introduction of policies rooted in public health and human rights.

The review process was commissioned at the Cartagena Summit of the Americas—a meeting of heads of state that included President Barack Obama—and reflects the growing dissatisfaction with the status quo. Several Latin American heads of state, frustrated with the failure and counterproductive nature of existing drug control structures, pushed for this review.

Secretary General of the OAS José Miguel Insulza said, “Leaders and heads of state and government reached significant consensus on some basic concepts: that the drug problem is one of the most important challenges facing the hemisphere, with its impact on public health and the cost incurred by states, and with the tremendous amount of violence that it brings.”

Insulza added “the current approach, beyond some important results, has not been successful and is not working well enough,” and that “we must find and mix new and better alternatives, without ceasing all that we are doing.”

It is notably the first time any major multilateral agency has given serious and detailed visualization to alternatives to prohibition including legal market regulation, or reform of the UN drug conventions.

The report puts forth various possibilities for the future of drug policy between now and 2025, including many that would have been unthinkable a few short years ago.

The OAS review process was divided into two components. The first was a series of five analytical reports that were compiled on key topics. These were then used to inform the scenario planning reports, which envision different possible scenarios for the future of drug policy between now and 2025.

Insulza wrote that the document's purpose "is to assist the hemisphere’s leaders to find a better way to address these challenges. It is neither our duty nor our job to marry ourselves to a single policy option or to choose a single scenario. That is up to the heads of state and government.”

The United Nations General Assembly will convene a special session on drugs in 2016, and it is hoped the current scenarios will influence some of the discussion.

5 Comments

As far as I’m concerned, three things make the OAS' report extremely valuable :

1. It has been approved by the governments of the 35 countries that make up the OAS—an institution hardly regarded as progressive

2. Given its provenance, no politician will any longer be able to avoid the debate by arguing that Latin America is not mature enough to appreciate the complexities of the issue, that it is too controversial to be discussed or that to discuss it would amount to political suicide, and

3. It is as a document with enormous pedagogical value. By putting the arguments and counter-arguments out in the open for all to see, the study provides an accessible, highly readable starting point for understanding the main issues, and should be used to encourage, inform and guide the debate on alternative drug policies.

I do believe that it is the duty of governments, universities, schools, drug law reformers and civil societies as a whole to promote the reading of this study which includes: 1. Analytical Report, 2. Scenarios Report and 3. Six Specific Studies that formed the basis of the analytical report. They are freely available here:

http://www.cicad.oas.org/Main/Template.asp?File=/Main/policy/default_ENG...

Gart Valenc
Twitter: @gartvalenc

Thanks Gart,

I'm really interested to see what process evolves from this. Scenario Planning is intended to help governments work through seemingly intractable problems like armed conflict, etc. This could be a useful tool in understanding drug policy, given that the language is so varied and there is little agreement over the top priorities.

It is with the greatest respect that i support all initiatives
against the abuse on all levels concerning the drug
problem....what i do admire most its that finally it
is becoming a global problem.....i do not know which
is the biggest problem make drugs legal or the
Mafia problem which would turn to prostitution or
business terrorism.....i stay convinced that the source
of all our problems whether social economic or even
abuse in politics...for one greed is in the way..of any
descent policy....but we would have it much easier
if biginning with our youth we gave them the possibilities
to access all their minimal needs...roof...food...water..
health...education..and skills...simple skills for those
who do not have study abilities....if i analyse the waste
in war and armement manufacture budjets around the world....i assure you that if this budjet is applied to
resolving all the needs of the helpless....there would be no need of wars or conflicts.....i admire Swiss author
Jean Ziegler who defends the right of food for all....
calling our society as a whole "CRIMINALS"
in fact i agree with him we are all as one SOLIDARITY
responsable.....the foundation of the solution is within
a drastic economic and social reform....but POLITICS
is in the way....i do not suggest Anarchy...but valide
LEGAL""""""AS IT HAS TO BE LEGAL""""LEGAL"""
OPPOSITION WITHIN THE ACTUAL FAILED SYSTEM
the burning question is where or who will be that brave leader that will have and the power and the courage
to face all this savvage greed and counter opposition
who does not hesitate to kill...lie...or torment...any
brave man who dares....when the French Revolution
"OCCUPIED THE BASTILLE"they only had brooms
and sticks for armements.....global starving hunger
is what gave them the courage to win by killing
aristocracy....but they are not much better today
because of the progress of the same opportunism...
ONE great man needs to have behind him
a movement like OCCUPY WALL STREET to give a wake up call to the high finance control across the
world....Ziegler believes there would be enough
food to feed the whole planet if there was no speculation
and greed control from those who are responsable.
the key is PROFIT....its ok to make profit if it is
shared profit with those who do the work or the
countries that give its wealth....mother earth....should
become real MOTHER FOR ALL HUMANITY...
not for just a few "FAVORI"
i sincerely beleive we are very close to this new world
order with a new conscience...my trust is in the team
work of the OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATINS OF
MONIEUR SOROS'Best Regards,Claire Costom

Punishment, and sometimes progressively harder and stricter punishment (including capital punishment), based drug policies may not be adequate or sometimes even appropriate. Victims resort to drugs often out of despair, not having hope or friends to resort to. Social harmony and moral & religious infrastructure may help those who are living at the edge.

FINALLY A LEGITIMATE START. I'M SO GLAD PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THERE. IF HE WERE TO ELIMINATE "THE WAR ON DRUGS", HE WOULD SAVE MANY LIVES. I'D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PLACES THAT HAVE LEGALIZED MARIJUANA, AMSTERDAM, "MEDICAL MARIJUANA SEVERAL AMERICAN STATES, AND LEGALIZED REGULATED HEROIN - THE UK - I BELIEVE. NOTHING IS PERFECT, BUT NOTHING COULD BE WORSE THAN OUR CURRENT POLICY.

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