The Global Commission on Drug Policy, largely composed of former world leaders, is calling on governments to decriminalize most illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine.
In a new report, the group says the international drug-control system is broken, according to The Wall Street Journal. Members of the group include former presidents including Brazil’s Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo and Colombia’s César Gaviria. Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz are also members.
“We have to control drugs, which are out of control,” Cardoso told the newspaper. “Some lethal drugs have to be prohibited…but the guiding principle has to be to guarantee the health and safety of people.”
According to the report, a law-enforcement approach that criminalizes people who use drugs has led to violence, instability and corruption. Instead, governments should focus their efforts on harm reduction, an approach that treats drug use as a public health and social issue, the report said. Any regulatory system for drugs should not allow sales to minors, the group stated. The most dangerous forms of drugs, including crack cocaine and the flesh-eating drug “krokodil,” should continue to be banned, they said.
Law enforcement should shift its focus from people who use drugs to violent drug gangs, according to the group. “The main thrust of [drug] law now is prohibition with violence, which does no good to either people’s health or security,” Cardoso said. “The concept now is that there has to be regulation with the objective of maintaining the health and security of people and respecting human rights.”
Between 60,000 and 100,000 people have died or disappeared in drug violence in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón declared war on drugs in 2006, according to the report.