Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Global War on Drugs Has Failed With Devastating Consequences Around the World

From the introduction of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Report:

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.

Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.

Our principles and recommendations can be summarized as follows:

1. End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.

2. Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.

3. Offer health and treatment services to those in need.

4. Abolish abusive practices carried out in the name of treatment – such as forced detention, forced labor, and physical or psychological abuse – that contravene human rights standards and norms or that remove the right to self-determination.

5. Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems. Eschew simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences.

6. Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights.

Break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now."

HT: Alex Tabarrok, who points out that the members of the commission are so stellar that it will be difficult to ignore this report, e.g. George Shultz, the former presidents of Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, and Colombia,  Paul Volcker, Richard Branson, Kofi Annan, Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, and the current prime minister of Greece.

20 Comments:

At 6/05/2011 8:58 AM, Blogger bix1951 said...

"Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience"
I always suspect that the vested interests don't want change here because the current system is so lucrative to them.
Meaning it is about money and greed

 
At 6/05/2011 9:09 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

"The members of the commission are so stellar that it will be difficult to ignore this report."

As stellar as Obama (the Nobel laureate) and his economic team, and we've seen the results.

 
At 6/05/2011 10:22 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

look at how much good decriminalization did for portugal.

it's clearly the right course.

the drug war has failed.

drugs are cheaper and more plentiful than ever.

not only is there not good argument for telling people what do do in their own homes, but the legalization would be a huge money saver.

(and before someone goes off on some foolish rant about "we don't want to pay the costs of addicts" consider that 1. you already are 2. it pales in comparison to alcohol and cigarettes, and 3. massive costs would go away.

incarceration rates in the US are obscene. 50% of it is drug related. just that savings would allow for 10X the drug treatment we would ever need.

add in the DEA etc, all the police narcotics groups, and put a tax on it and it's a huge savings.

there is literally no sane way to argue that legalizing drugs would not save piles of money.

the drugs would also be of higher quality. pharmaceutical heroin (essentially dilaudid) is nowhere near as dangerous as the stuff on the street.

and there is ZERO evidence that usage goes up with decriminalization. that's just some stupid "reefer madness" fear mongering. would you take up heroin just because it was legal?

if anything, legalizing drugs would make them harder to get. when you are 15, it's difficult to buy beer. it's easy to buy drugs. illegal dealers don't card.

legalizing drugs would also stabilize mexico providing national security and reducing immigration pressure.

apart from hysterical arguments about "we'll turn into a nation of dope fiends" that have no basis in fact, there is really no good argument against this that cannot be applied even more effectively to alcohol and cigarettes.

remember how well prohibition worked?

yeah, me either.

 
At 6/05/2011 10:47 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, your jumping to conclusions when the outcomes are still uncertain (treatment rather than decriminalization may be reducing drug use):

5 Years After: Portugal's Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results
April 7, 2009

"Instead of being put into prison, addicts are going to treatment centers and they're learning how to control their drug usage or getting off drugs entirely.

Under the Portuguese plan, penalties for people caught dealing and trafficking drugs are unchanged; dealers are still jailed and subjected to fines depending on the crime. But people caught using or possessing small amounts—defined as the amount needed for 10 days of personal use—are brought before what's known as a "Dissuasion Commission," an administrative body created by the 2001 law.

Each three-person commission includes at least one lawyer or judge and one health care or social services worker. The panel has the option of recommending treatment, a small fine, or no sanction.

Peter Reuter, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, says he's skeptical decriminalization was the sole reason drug use slid in Portugal, noting that another factor, especially among teens, was a global decline in marijuana use."

 
At 6/05/2011 11:03 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal did not in any way decrease levels of consumption. On the contrary, "the consumption of drugs in Portugal increased by 4.2% - the percentage of people who have experimented with drugs at least once in their lifetime increased from 7.8% in 2001 to 12% in 2007 (IDT-Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction Portuguese, 2008).

Rates of use of cocaine and amphetamine doubled in Portugal, seizures of cocaine have increased sevenfold between 2001 and 2006, the sixth highest in the world (WDR-World Drug Report, 2009).

In Portugal, since decriminalization has been implemented, the number of homicides related to drugs has increased 40%. "It was the only European country with a significant increase in (drug-related) murders between 2001 and 2006" (WDR, 2009).

 
At 6/05/2011 1:45 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world"...

O.K. then people should vote in the sorts of politicos that will stop the so called war on drugs...

BTW if its such a failure then maybe you should consider googling Singapore and see how their version of the war on drugs is working for them...

Mind you I'm NOT saying that Singapore is something we in this country should emulate...

morganovich states: "look at how much good decriminalization did for portugal"...

How much did it cost Portugal?

Isn't Portugal also on a financial precipice?

Did Portugal's nanny state that changed directions on their previous drug laws add to Portugal's financial problems?

I don't any of the answers to these questions but this country we live in has spent a seriously sizable fortune combating drugs apparently to little avail...

Which is the cheaper way to go?

 
At 6/05/2011 1:52 PM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from PeakTrader: "The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal did not in any way decrease levels of consumption."

Why would you expect consumption to go down? Did consumption of alcohol go down after Prohibition was repealed?

Prohibition (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex, etc.) are simply one self-righteous group forcing their opinions about victimless activities on other groups through the power of the state.

 
At 6/05/2011 2:16 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Offer health and treatment services to those in need ... Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems ... Eschew simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts ...

So, what they are actually advocating is that non-users be compelled to work in order to provide users with "health and treatment services", "prevention activities" and "educational efforts", while the user is freed from any threat of "forced detention", "forced labor" or denied the "right to self-determination".

And this doesn't seem back-asswards to you? All of the consequences for the users behavior are shifted to the non-user. Non-users must suffer "forced detention" and "forced labor" and surrender their "right to self-determination" in order to provide for the users and offset any negative societal consequences.

I don't care how "stellar" Alex Tabarrok thinks these people are their suggestions are crap.

 
At 6/05/2011 3:05 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Liberty is not license to act from sheer self-will. Rather, it is social freedom ... As to the right of men to act anywhere according to their pleasure, without any moral tie, no such right exists. Men are never in a state of total independence of each other.” -- Edmund Burke

 
At 6/05/2011 5:07 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"How much did it cost Portugal?

Isn't Portugal also on a financial precipice?"

that's a silly argument. that's like saying "look what the US spends on twist ties. didn't they have a financial crisis."

there is literally no way that legalizing drugs could not save the US money.

just take the 600k or so people in jail in the US on drug offenses.

that's what, 12-18bn a year in expense. add in court costs. add in drug interdiction budgets. add in parloe.

then consider how much money could be made taxing drugs.

now try and find me even rudimentary plausible increases in expenses that would offset it.

there is no viable argument against drugs on financial grounds.

pot is what, the second largest cash crop int he US? do you have any idea what the revenues would be if we taxed it like cigarettes?

alternately, if you are so concerned about health costs, then shouldn't you be advocating banning cigarettes?

i doubt you could find a substance with higher health costs.

 
At 6/05/2011 5:11 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Don't hold your breath for change in America on this one. Though it is the right thing to do as no one who wants drugs cannot procure them and we are well on our way to destroying a third generation of impoverished youth, the business of the war on drugs is big business...Consider at a 2011 budget of $2.1B the DEA would rank in the top 900 businesses in the Forbes 1000 - and this is a fraction of what we spend in this failed war. Face it, drug enforcement is not about drugs, it has become a JOBS ISSUE. The politicians in Washington would and won't change things until change is brought to them.

 
At 6/05/2011 5:12 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

you are quoting VERY selectively.

from your same article:

"
Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006,"

""Drug decriminalization did reach its primary goal in Portugal," of reducing the health consequences of drug use, he says, "and did not lead to Lisbon becoming a drug tourist destination."

Walter Kemp, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, says decriminalization in Portugal "appears to be working."

this from the cato report:

"The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world."

"Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization."

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10080

which i suggest you read.

you are cherry picking poorly referenced facts and missing the forest for the trees.

 
At 6/05/2011 5:16 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"So, what they are actually advocating is that non-users be compelled to work in order to provide users with "health and treatment services", "prevention activities" and "educational efforts", while the user is freed from any threat of "forced detention", "forced labor" or denied the "right to self-determination"."

oh, you mean like the way the right now i am forced to pay taxes to incarcerate people and pay for expensive interdiction efforts in support of a law that limits my freedom?

i think you really have the wrong end of the stick on this self determination argument. self determination means i can use drugs if i want to.

you are also on the wrong side of the fiscal argument.

taxes on drugs and reduced prison costs would pay for 10 times the treatment expenses (many of which we already face - take a look at medicaid).

i find your position on this to be self defeating. you are arguing to limit self determination in the name of self determination.

 
At 6/05/2011 5:29 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

i was thinking about this a bit further.

clearly, as you say, none of us have complete liberty nor is it desirable in a society.

i gain more from everyone else not having the right to rob and kill me than i lose by giving up my own right to rob and kill them.

the correct path is to allow freedom so long as it does not impinge upon the freedom or property of other.

smoking a joint in your house does not reduce the freedom of others.

in fact, it increases it. not only do they have the freedom as well, but contrary to your earlier argument, those choosing not to partake are no longer required to pay for those who do should health or addiction issues arise.

that can all easily be paid for by taking the drugs.

further, non users would also be freed of their currently faced costs for incarceration, law enforcement, courts, etc.

it's pretty much a win on every freedom front.

you act as though a college kid taking extacy and going to a dance party in a warehouse somehow impinges on your freedom.

perhaps you could tell me how it does so?

 
At 6/05/2011 5:47 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich says: "decriminalization...it's clearly the right course."

I'm sure Obama felt the same way about his economic "stimulus."

Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it won't be easy to put it back in.

 
At 6/05/2011 7:15 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Morganovich,

Bravo!

That is all.

 
At 6/05/2011 7:41 PM, Blogger MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

I read an article recently that Holland is tightening aspects of it's drug laws after liberalizing them decades ago. The article claims there's been a spike in crime which authorities have linked to the "drug tourist" industry. I'm not sure I buy it though. Why would drug laws liberalized decades ago suddenly cause an increase in crime today? There must be more to the story than is being reported.

http://news.wooeb.com/NewsStory.aspx?id=661164

 
At 6/06/2011 9:34 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"I'm sure Obama felt the same way about his economic "stimulus.""

what a completely irrelevant and meaningless comment.

if that's the best you can muster, i think it's time you admit you lost this one.

 
At 6/06/2011 2:42 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"that's a silly argument. that's like saying "look what the US spends on twist ties. didn't they have a financial crisis.""...

Ahhhh, total BS morganovich...

Look at how much is wasted through fraud and corruption on our nanny state programs of medicare and medicaid...

You think Portugal gets a pass on that sort of behavior?

Otherwords you really, really, really want to see drugs decriminalized/legalized or something that you're willing to sling any sort of silly nonsnese out there to back up your intital point...

 
At 6/06/2011 9:34 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

As Thomas Sowell said, "There are no solutions, only trade offs."

Applying that logic to drugs, we have to compare the trade offs (costs and benefits) of drug prohibition vs. drug legalization.

Based on that comparison, I don't think it's even close; the costs of drug prohibition outweigh the benefits by several orders of magnitude, and the benefits of drug legalization outweigh the costs by several orders of magnitude.

And those orders of magnitude are so obvious and so enormously large, that I don't think the case for drug prohibition can even be taken seriously. At all. Ever.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home