Daily Mail – 2011-06-04 00:19:39
War on Drugs Has Failed and Caused ‘Devastating Consequences for Societies Worldwide’
Claims Global Narcotics Watchdog
LONDON (June 3, 2011) — The worldwide war on drugs and organised narcotics gangs has been a “failure” according to a leading international drugs commission. The Global Commission on Drug Policy today urged world leaders to replace the system of strictly criminalising drugs and imprisoning drug users.
The group also argued that countries who use a “law enforcement” approach to drug crime should focus their efforts on violent organised crime and drug traffickers.
In a report issued by the commission, the 19-member panel said it wanted to encourage governments to legalise drugs like marijuana in an effort to “undermine the power of organised gangs.”
The report states: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”
The commission, whose panel members include former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and businessman Sir Richard Branson, argued that decriminalisation does not always result in significant increases in drug use.
Virgin Group tycoon Branson admitted in 2007 he had smoked drugs with his then 21-year-old son on a surfing holiday in Australia.
Current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and former US Secretary of State George Shultz are also on the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
Other members of the panel include former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and former US Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.
“Vast expenditures on criminalisation and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption,” the report states.
It added: “Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers.”
It has also been recommended that “fundamental reforms are urgently needed in national and global drug control policies.”
A further recommendation by the Commission is to replace the criminalisation and those who are drug users but don’t hurt people with offers of health and treatment services.
Legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs would “undermine the power of organised crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens,” according to the commission.
The report added: “Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use.”
The commission’s report added that money spent by governments on futile efforts to reduce the supply of drugs and on jailing people on drug-related offences could be better spent on different ways to reduce drug demand and the harm caused by drug abuse.
Meanwhile, a group of celebrities was last night branded “naive in the extreme” after pleading with David Cameron to decriminalise drug possession.
Actresses Julie Christie, Dame Judi Dench and Kathy Burke, Left-wing film director Mike Leigh, singer Sting and Sir Richard Branson criticised drug policy in a letter to the Prime Minister.
In the open letter signed by 30 people, they demand a â€˜swift and transparentâ€™ review of drugs laws, followed by “immediate decriminalisation” if the review found laws had failed.
Nearly 80,000 people in the UK were convicted or cautioned for possessing an illegal drug in the past year and “most were young, black or poor,” the letter published by campaign group Release said.
But the stars were condemned by drugs campaigners who said removing penalties for cannabis would send a message such drugs were safe.
WAR ON DRUGS IN MEXICO
Mexican president Felipe Calderonâ€™s war on drugs is failing.
Last year the drug-related death toll in Mexico stood at 15,273 after skyrocketing a massive 60 per cent on the previous year.
In the four years since Calderonâ€™s first wave of 6,500 troops went into battle with the cartels, 34,612 people have died.
That figure includes 30,913 execution-style killings, 3,153 deaths in shootouts between gangs, and 546 deaths involving attacks on authorities, according to federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire.
The violence was so intense in the country in 2008 that the Pentagon warned Mexico was on the verge of becoming a failed state. A bolster of more troops — some 50,000 are now fighting the war on drugs — has done little to reduce the death toll.
And despite US funding trade in marijuana, ecstasy and methamphetamine grew last year, the National Drug Threat Assessment said.
The wholesale value of drug sales ranges from $13.6billion to a staggering $48.4billion annually, according to the US Department of Justice. Leader of Sinaloa drug cartel Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has even made it onto the Forbes billionaire list. This year his net worth stands at $1 billion according to the financial authority.
He is believed to be spending more money than in previous years however to defend the cartel because of stepped up security.
Calderon freely admits his strategy needs to be overhauled.
‘We are aware that we are going through a very difficult time on security issues,’ he said at a meeting with anti-crime groups last year.
“I know that the strategy has been questioned, and my administration is more than willing to revise, strengthen or change it if needed.
“What I ask, simply, is for clear ideas and precise proposals on how to improve this strategy.”
Mexican presidents are limited to one six-year term so Calderon has until 2012 to turn his war on drugs into a legacy, rather than a laughing stock.
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