U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske told an international meeting this week that legalizing drugs will not be a “silver bullet” that will make organized crime disappear.
Instead of arresting more users and building prisons for them, Kerlikowske said governments should focus on “a science-based approach to drug addiction as a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover,” Reuters reports.
Kerlikowske told the meeting that the U.S. federal government now spends more on drug prevention and treatment than domestic law enforcement. However, the United States is continuing its efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations around the world, he added.
Some Latin American countries are considering relaxing penalties for personal drug use. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina favors legalization as a way to reduce crime and violence. Uruguay has considered a proposal to legalize marijuana.
On Wednesday, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov said the agency’s new drug report found a decline in the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world, and an increase in the use of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances.