A Chance to Get Drug Policy Right

What do drug experts in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the United States have in common? They all recognize that the war on drugs has failed, and that it’s time for a change.

It’s been 17 years since world leaders assembled at the 1998 special session of the United Nations to discuss the global drug problem. The slogan of that meeting was, “A Drug-Free World: We Can Do It.” But they couldn’t do it. The effort to eliminate all drug production and impose a zero-tolerance approach to drug use didn’t work. In fact, these efforts have done more harm than good the world over. 

In April 2016, the world will gather at the UN once again to revisit the problem. This time, the secretary-general and the nations of the world must listen to voices of experience: those from the streets of Rio to the parliaments of Europe, from West Africa to New York, who are looking at the impacts of drug policy and calling for a rethink. Here are some key points of consensus:

  1. The moment is now for drug policy reform.

    At the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in April, member states will convene to debate current drug policies. But you don’t have to be there to make your voice heard. The global Stop the Harm movement is mobilizing people all over the world to bring an end to the catastrophic failures of the current drug policy regime. In the words of Ruth Dreifuss, former president of Switzerland and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, we’re shifting from an “ideological and moralistic point of view to a pragmatic, but also a humane, human rights–respecting perspective.”

  2. Damage caused by the drug war is evident across the world.

    From Latin America and Asia to Africa and the United States, trillions of dollars have been wasted and millions of lives damaged or lost to the drug war over the past 50 years. As Isidore Obot, professor and chairperson of the department of psychology at the University of Uyo in Nigeria says, “The drug policies in African countries … are like war policies,” with soldiers and law enforcement officials carrying out prohibitionist practices that tear communities apart. All over the world, prison systems are overburdened, public health deteriorates, violence proliferates, and human rights violations abound.

  3. There are better approaches than abstinence-only to address drug use and possession.

    Zero tolerance has been of zero use to most people who use drugs. Better ways exist, as exemplified by the system used by Portugal, which in 2001 decriminalized possession of up to 10 days’ worth of drugs. “It turns out, now that the evaluations have come out after over a decade, illicit drug use did not go up,” says Ethan Nadelman, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

  4. There are better ways to address drug growing and dealing.

    Some of the most marginalized populations—such as poor farmers and low-level drug dealers—bear the brunt of current policies, including aerial eradication and disproportionate jail sentencing. Countries like Bolivia have introduced a community control model that not only reduced coca cultivation but also decreased violence and stabilized and diversified local economies. “If we spent the equivalent trillion dollars that we spent on the drug war on social development issues, the drug problem would probably take care of itself with some moderate regulatory framework,” says Donald MacPherson, director of the Canada Drug Policy Coalition.

UN member states must commit to incorporating human rights, public health, sustainable development, and harm reduction principles firmly in their drug policies. The message from people who best know the impacts of the failed war on drugs is clear: we can replace bad prohibitionist policy with more sensible regulation of drugs and better health policies. Now we need the secretary general of the United Nations, and the governments who gather there this April, to take up that call.



Svaki problem se sjece u korijenu, prvenstveno treba usmjeriti pratnju na mjesta proizvodnje droge da se rade projekti zabrane, a kad se vec proizvede i finalni proizvod je jako tesko sprijeciti da ne dodje do trzista.....

It is just stupid to try and control recreational drug use but in the same breath advertise and promote alcohol.

When it comes to cannabis a plant that grows prolifically just about anywhere there is dirt, water and sun, criminalising this plant is just never going to work (he says racking up a bong). The fact is we have been using some form of getting stoned for millennia, our physiology is wired to it. We as a species evolved with it and many other psychoactive substances.

But we made it, as a species that is. Right up until the late 1800's and early 1900's when there was no restrictions.
Then it all went pear shaped in the early part of the 20th century and prohibition, the outlawing of cannabis and a relentless not very effective war on drugs ensued, so far with catastrophic results to society in the form of drug syndicates who have made more money than some small countries GDP Pablo Escobar springs to mind.

The amount of money spent on this war globally is nothing short of staggering we are talking trillions of dollars, just think of what we could have achieved as a species if that money and taxes on recreational drugs had been ploughed into social programs, space exploration and other beneficial things.

To sum up, the comedian George Carlin famously said "Man has been looking to get high since the dawn of time".

I am tired of being criminel

The time to rethink our approach to drug use globally has come.

Wee must not fail another generation. Let's get it right this time. UNGASS16.

Stop the violence and abuse of individuals who need jobs, education, and help. Not jail

I lost my daughter to an accidental overdose 21 months ago. A progressive drug policy would have helped immensely. Her legal issues could have been avoided which at the time increased the stigma associated with her addiction illness and made her more isolated instead of being able to reach out and get the help she needed, and quite frankly what she wanted.

Yes It's high time that the government of every nation do realise that the drug use is a Global issue. Therefore, it should be tackled globally. Also alternatives of drugs need to be provided to youths especially and drug users, in form of social ammenities & therapies. If drug policies are changed to reflect this new ways to tackle drug issue, even the high-profile drug dealers will look for other businesses & government can gain more from these economically.

In Sweden the politicians are very stubborn and the anti- drug policy has much to do with Cristian fundamentalism within the people. Drugs are not harmful, People harm themselves. Scientic studies has been understood the wrong way. A human is not determined, like matter and the enthegogens shows the width of the Free Will.

"This time...the world must listen to the voices of experience." The people who have the right to shape drug policy are the ones who have been victimized by it. There isn't very much overlap between the drug and political communities, which is why misinformed and mindless drug laws have been passed by ignorant, out-of-touch politicians.

"...the most marginalized populations...bear the brunt of current policies." Drug dealers are being demonized and cruelly punished for commercial activity that is founded on the same capitalist business principle that every business, in every industry, is founded on - brand addiction.


Antinarc, I totaly agree with you......I live in Italy and am currently serving a sentence for selling INDIAN HEM.....now I am not a user but went into the business to make ends meet ......over here as a foreigner your really reduced to shit and there is a lot of racisim going on...I managed to make some money out of the business....on the day of my arrest to my suprise the cops that came stole my money...from my home and from my pockets ...and only 10 euros was reported to be found .....i reported all this to my lawyer...my word is my only proof...now this is my point: why arrest a man, throw him in jail,call him a criminal after he has worked hard by engaging in a business venture and the LAW steals from him....who is the real criminal?...for me policies need to be put in place to structure the industry and make it a viable venture with proper regulations....so that guys like me can earn a living, pay our tax...and be good members of the society....am just saying!

Please study the Dutch system of the separation of markets. Hard- and soft drugs are completely different. Let's make a legal high quality tasteful cannabis policy. Amen.

The war on drugs is nothing short of a consolidation of power in fewer hands. Some areas have no jobs and drug dealing is an equal opportunity employer. Cannabis has been outlawed to create monopolies with petroleum, timber, and synthetic chemicals made by Dow-Dupont which pollute our air and water. Big Pharma puts autistic and mentally ill on their forced meds which causes weight gain and illness.

It's the government's who do the most harm with their overly punitive laws. They should be the last people anyone takes advice from. We're expecting them to make sane rational decisions on drug policy when they've done nothing except to ban and blame for decades? If they can't forge a rational policy using scientific data with regards to ecigs, why should they even have seat at the table? Personally all I've seen from our various countries are lies built on a mantra of "what about the children" instead of any rational dialogue about harm reduction.

I am a partner in a government institution (Secretary of Social Development of the Municipality of Acapulco) which provides support to those most in need in our in our town for this reason we would be helpful to join forces in collaboration with its foundation, I would like to contact with someone of the foundation for the possibility that we can support.

Thank you very much for your attention

War with drugs in Russia were fallen. Our country has corruption and lawlessness. Repressive policies in our country. Many, very many young people are go to in prison on fabricated cases huge timeline.Many people stumbled for the first time with a small amount of the drug.Federal Drug Control Service fabricate the case for bonuses and promotions. real criminals are free.
that's not all , there is much to write . pay attention to the drug policy of Russia. save the lives of our families. Stop the genocide of young people !

How i can help you, i'm from Bolivia and here the problem with the drogs law are bigger, are affecting many peoples

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