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War on Drugs: Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

  • Date
  • June 2011

On June 2, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a grantee of the Open Society Foundations, released a groundbreaking report condemning the drug war as a failure and recommending major reforms to the global drug prohibition regime.

The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes, including alternatives to incarceration and greater emphasis on public health approaches to drug use, but also decriminalization and experiments in legal regulation.

The executive director of the global advocacy organization AVAAZ, with its nine million members worldwide, presented a public petition in support of the Global Commission’s recommendations that has been signed by over 600,000 people and given to the United Nations Secretary General.

“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s global war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed,” said former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

“Let’s start by treating drug addiction as a health issue, reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives, and legally regulating rather than criminalizing cannabis,” Cardoso said.

The Commission’s recommendations are as follows:

  • End the criminalization, marginalization, and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.
  • Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs (especially cannabis) to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.
  • Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available, including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada.
  • Apply human rights and harm reduction principles and policies both to people who use drugs as well as those involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets such as farmers, couriers, and petty sellers.

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