Global Commission Urges End to Criminalization of Drug Use

A new report by a group of current and former world leaders recommends that the United States and other governments end the criminalization of drug use. The group urges governments to experiment with new ways to legalize and regulate marijuana to cut drug cartel profits. The report comes from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, the current prime minister of Greece and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The group urges governments to improve treatment services for drug users, according to the Los Angeles Times. The report says governments’ approach to reducing drug use has been a failure, and cites statistics from the United Nations indicating that worldwide marijuana use rose more than 8 percent and cocaine use grew by 27 percent between 1998 and 2008. An estimated 250 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, the report states, adding, “We simply cannot treat them all as criminals.”

The U.S. government’s response to the report was negative. “Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,” Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said.

The Obama Administration has taken action in several areas to reduce drug use, including requesting $1.7 billion for drug prevention programs in 2012, up 7.9 percent from the previous year, the article notes. Administration officials have also supported the use of drug courts, where judges can offer sentences of treatment and other terms instead of jail time. The Administration also plans to expand programs that help drug offenders released from prison transition back into their communities.

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    June 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I am very glad to see so many well-informed individuals frequent this site and post on it as well. We need to stand-up against institutions and groups that preach the “beneficial” war on drugs. Just like almost every other war we have started, its a failure and a sore for the decent human beings living in the US. Continue to fight for what is right and just! If we stop treating people that use drugs as criminals, maybe some of the could actually be helped my addictions counselors. See, when someone is arrested for marijuana, they are generalyl given the option for treatment or jail. They generalyl choose treatment, even if they are not an addict, but got arrested for having a joint on them and instead of going to jail they took the easier route. All those marijuana smokers that get busted and go to “treatment” centers, tkae up precious spaces that could have been filled with actual addicts and people with problems, rather than some kid who got busted with a joint. Let start using resources to truly HELP ppl… jail is not helping

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    Michael Velardo

    June 10, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    The U.S. government’s response to the report was negative. “Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,” Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said.

    Ha! And communities are easier to keep healthy and safe now Mr. Lemaitre? That is a load of manure dude.

    Legalizing the use of drugs wouldn’t even tick up a statistically significant difference in the amount of drug abusers, and addicts now, or lower the pool of people barking up those trees.

    The problem with legalizing drugs, and making drug abuse, and addiction problems strictly health policy issues to be dealt with by mental health and substance abuse professionals is that the criminal justice system would literally collapse from the lack of criminals, and subsequent lack of those getting involved criminally in the system due to the extreme reduction in drug-related offenses. Consequently, a whole mess of jobs would disappear from the criminal justice system, including staffing the prison industrial complex.

    In fact, the Cartels would eventually disappear, or move to some other profitable enterprise, but it wouldn’t be drugs because they would be legal, regulated, taxed, and made cheaper than any Cartels could make them.

    Now isn’t that one of the real concerns, reasons, and arguments against legalizing drugs? Yet no one has the kahunas to come out and actually say it.

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    June 8, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    “This is simply not true, as both in-prison treatment and the presence and growth of drug courts illustrates.”

    You don’t think $40,000-$50,000 a year for treatment in prison is a little expensive? The drug war has only gotten worse and what to show for it? The largest prison population in the world is what. Prison and drug court wont even come close to fixing the problem. You need to take the money incentive out of drugs, like what happened to alcohol

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    Downtown Denny Brown

    June 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    I’ve been saying that prohibition doesn’t work since 1984, and I see people are finally agreeing with me. Anything the government prohibits just creates a black market and puts profits in the pockets of organized and unorganized crime figures. Also the media tries to say the violence is behind the drugs, and the truth is the violence is used to protect the profits the drugs generate because they are illegal. So money really is the root of all evil not the drugs per se. Futhermore, if you can’t win a war in 40 years or at least have better statistics that the drug problem is disappearing, wouldn’t you change your tactics? In my opinion, the drug courts are a start in the right direction for those already using and/or addicted to drugs. We need to spend resourses on preventing the next generation from getting started on abusing drugs. My pilosophy is everything in moderation. When a person uses ANYTHING to excess it can be harmful and yes, even fatal. For example too much water in a short periord of time is fatal but water is the one thing neccessary for life; a person can go much longer without food than water. If drugs were decriminalized we would need smaller police forces, fewer prisons,correctional officers, probation officers, parole officers, judges and court workers. Then the goverment could use that money for the education and treatment of drug abuse. I say STOP treating drugs as a criminal issue and START treatig it as an health matter. STOP making otherwise productive, law abiding citizens instant criminals with a permanent criminal history after a drug conviction.

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