By Christiaan van Huyssteen (@cvh23)
Source: Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)
I have already covered some of the arguments that can be made in favour of legalisation here.
A panel of top global narcotics experts fronted by prominent public figures including Kofi Annan, Richard Branson and eight ex-national presidents, is strongly urging that drugs be a matter for health professionals, not the police, in a new report.
There have been previous groups that have advocated radical reform, and drugs panels that have been staffed with respected and sober politicians, but never have the two been combined to produce a body with such clout. Among its board members are the ex-presidents of Brazil, Chile, Switzerland, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Colombia, some of the countries with the most acute drug problems in the world.
“Criminal drug producers and traffickers thrive in fragile, conflict-affected and underdeveloped regions, where vulnerable populations are easily exploited. The corruption, violence and instability generated by unregulated drug markets are widely recognized as a threat to both security and development,”says the GCDP report.
The Mexican government’s war against the cartels that control the lucrative drug routes to the US has resulted in more than 120,000 deaths in less than a decade, while drugs have also played a key role in conflicts in Colombia and Afghanistan.
The drugs debate, and the various pro-legalisation movements around the world have for long been stuck at grass roots level. Legalisation has not yet been seriously debated by the public at large, or at the higher echelons of political spheres. And very little has been done to change policy around the world over the last few decades (with notable exceptions like the Netherlands, Uruguay, and some states in the US).
Politicians around the world have been reluctant to take on the drug issue, because they fear that giving in on drugs by loosening regulation makes them seem weak. They think that giving up the war on drugs is giving in to the gangs and cartels. But as I have mentioned in the linked article, the opposite is true.
But the issue is now being taken more seriously, with some big names bringing the debate back into the political arena. It is interesting to note that these big names are all former presidents/prime ministers. Now that they don’t have to pander to voters, they can stand up for common sense. It will be interesting to see if this actually gets anywhere. But bringing the debate back into the mainstream would be an achievement in itself.
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