Look Who's Got the Antidote to Trump's Prescription for Global Drug War [FEATURE]

Even as US President Donald Trump was using the meeting Monday of the United Nations General Assembly to try to create a hardline global drug policy coalition, a group that includes a dozen former heads of state from countries around the planet issued a report urging governments to embrace alternatives to a "failed" repressive drug war. Instead, the group argued, countries should begin to try to implement regulated markets for illicit substances.

While Trump spoke in New York City, the Global Commission on Drug POLICY unveiled its report, Regulation: The Responsible Control of Drugs, with a press conference in Mexico City, capital of a nation frequently scapegoated by Trump for America's drug crises, but which in reality has suffered mightily from the demons unleashed by drug prohibition. The county's death toll in a decade of heightened prohibition-related cartel and government violence now exceeds 200,000 -- the kind of figure associated more with festering civil wars than with law enforcement problems.

One of Mexico's former presidents, Ernesto Zedillo, is a member of the commission, established in 2011 by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, along with former presidents and prime ministers of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, East Timor, Greece, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, and Switzerland. The group also includes notable global figures, such as Richard Branson and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as American political names such as former Secretary of State George Schultz and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

"A demand for drugs exists, and if it is not satisfied through legal ways, then it will be satisfied by the illegal market," said commission chair former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, "Prohibition has allowed criminal organizations to control the whole chain of drugs. Every region in the world suffers from violence induced by turf wars over production areas and transit routes, from corruption and connivance of state institutions, and from the laundering of drug money, which damages the legal economy and the functioning of democratic institutions."

In the report, the commission calls on policymakers to open local and national participatory processes to shape the reforms and collect evidence on the legal regulation of drugs. That's something incoming Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has already begun with his town hall meetings on violence and his proposal of amnesty for non-violent traffickers and drug crop farmers.

"This report provides a coherent account of what the legal regulation of drugs can look like in a real-life context, based on scientific evidence and current regulatory frameworks for legal substances," said Dreifuss. "It draws particular attention to the risks associated with over-commercialization and the need to learn from mistakes in regulating alcohol, tobacco and prescription opioids."

The global leaders also call for the renegotiation of the international treaties that form the legal backbone of global drug prohibition. Not only do they encourage a repressive approach to the drug question where drug users and low-level dealers face stiff prison sentences, they are also increasingly out of touch with social and political realities. Uruguay, Canada, and nine American states have legalized marijuana in contravention of the treaties, and Bolivia does not acknowledge coca's inclusion in their drug schedules.

"The international drug control system has failed to achieve its own objectives in terms of the supply in and demand for drugs," said former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. "It needs to adapt quickly to the reality that an increasing number of states are calling for or have implemented reforms which are incompatible with the framework it established. The gap which has developed between the expectations created by that framework and the reality on the ground needs to be faced up to. A new system is urgently needed which will support countries to implement effective drug policies."

American drug reformers applauded the commission's call for a new approach.

"The war on drugs has been an abject failure that has had devastating consequences throughout the world," said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Amidst this backdrop, it is heartening to see experienced world leaders boldly step forward with innovative, forward-looking proposals that are grounded in human rights, health, and development."

In a world where Donald Trump's drug war photo-op at the UN gets the press, it's easy to forget that when it comes to drug policy, the global prohibitionist consensus has already crumbled. The commission's report is a salutary reminder that better ways exist -- if we can muster the political muscle to implement them.

[Disclosure: Drug Policy Alliance is a funder of the organization that publishes this newsletter.]

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The Democrat party helped

The Democrat party helped implement the Drug war and has upheld and ramped it up for decades, some peoples blind partisan hackery and ignorance is astounding.

Dain Bramage's picture

No Longer True

There was a time when you couldn't tell a Democrat from a Republican, with regard to marijuana policy.

No more.

The Democrats are ready to legalize marijuana nationwide, and have put their bills forth in Congress to prove it.  Marijuana legalization is now standard campaign pledge for Democrats, with Republicans talking in circles about... hemp.  Well, maybe.  Such crumbs.

Additionally, Democrats stand for health care for all, civil rights, equal rights, protecting the environment, and, oh yeah... NOT CONSPIRING WITH FOREIGN ADVERSARIES TO STEAL A USA ELECTION!

What do Republicans stand for?

Baby-snatching.  Tax cuts for the rich.  Racism.  Sexism. Treason.

And... More War On Drugs! 

No thanks!  Fuck Trump, fuck the Republicans.

what's up with the Dems and medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana is much more popular than any politician. Doctors need to be able to prescribe cannabis (not just high priced pharmaceuticals derived from cannabis) and insurance needs to cover cheap, effective, non-toxic cannabis. So why aren't the Democrats running on this uber popular issue of human rights? Because they are in the hip pocket of big pharma? Sure seems like it.

Any comment? 

Dain Bramage's picture

I just told you: Democrats OWN the legalization issue!

Democrats ARE running on marijuana legalization!

Go Beto O Rourke! 

Beto O Rourke isn't the Democrat Party, he's just one candidate

I'm not complaining about Democrat views on recreational cannabis legalization, which isn't ripe for action in DC anyway. I'm talking about the federal government, in 2018, in flaming defiance of public opinion, still claiming that cannabis has no medicinal value, but a cannabis derived product that will cost over $30,000 a year is medicine, as announced just this week. And not hearing a peep from the Democrats about how raw cannabis needs to be recognized as legitimate medicine. They seem perfectly fine with turning medicinal cannabis into a high priced big pharma only product.

Your ignoring my point only increases my suspicions about Dem intentions regarding MEDICINAL cannabis.

Dain Bramage's picture

Blame in 2018 belongs to Republicans

The Federal Government in 2018 is in complete Republican control.

So you're not making sense.

What are Democrats doing to get raw cannabis allowed as meds?

 The issue isn't who has control of Congress, the issue is where do Democrats stand on  MEDICINAL cannabis? Doctors need to be able to prescribe cannabis and insurance companies need to cover it when they do. Given the extreme popularity of MEDICINAL cannabis and the moral obscenity of it being illegal, why aren't national Democrats seizing on MEDICINAL marijuana as a political issue on which to contrast themselves with Republicans? I gave you my answer. If you don't like my answer, what's yours?

Your evasiveness is starting to get on my nerves.

Dain Bramage's picture

Chill dude

Your nerves are not my problem.  I hope you will be okay.

All cannabis is medical.

I intend to vote Democratic, it's the only way to protect legalization.  How hard is that to understand?

The Libertarian Approach to drugs

Considering political parties, the Libertarian Party is way ahead of the two major parties in opposing drug prohibition.  This opposition is one of the major planks in the Libertarian platform, and has been for many years.  As drug prohibition is actually based on progressive religious dogma of the 19th century, not medical or social science, it will someday be found to be unconstitutional.  Unfortunately, thanks to Nixon's drug war escalation, drug prohibition has become a tool of racist power, and thus will be hard to bring to an end. Regulated sales of ALL drugs to adults (and to minors with medical supervision) is the only solution, as the UN document (and the Libertarian party plank) suggests.

James Stewart Campbell, MD.

Dain Bramage's picture

A vote for Libertarians is a

A vote for Libertarians is a vote for Traitor Trump. 

Dain Bramage's picture

Same for the Green Party

Same is true for the Greens: A vote for the Green Party is a vote for Trump, in its practical effect -- third parties split the progressive vote (I consider marijuana legalization to be a progressive position, even as it becomes accepted mainstream.)

I used to be Green Party, I understand the need to vote and to represent your own views, and I understand that the two major parties represent Corporate America more often than American citizens.

But I switched to Democrat after Trump was installed as Putin's puppet.

The choice now is democracy (vote Democratic) or authoritarian fascism (vote Republican, Libertarian, Green, or a non-vote.)   And there is only one question: Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?

You can use your vote to vent your righteous outrage, or you can use your vote to change the world for the better.  I advocate for the second option: join the Blue Wave, and crush the Republicans!

One action is required of you: register to vote, then vote.

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