The global war on drugs has “failed” and it is time to explore the option of legalizing, according to a new commission involving former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria and various other former heads of state.
A report released Thursday morning by the Global Commission on Drug Policy opens with the statement that, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world,” and that “fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”
The 19-member commission includes former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, intellectuals and former heads of state of from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland, among others.
The report goes on to state that money spent to criminalize and punish drug use and the drug trade have “clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption.”
A series of recommendations are made by the commission, including putting an end to criminalization and stigmatization of drug use, encouraging governments to experiment with new legal models of regulation and beginning to “transform” the drug prohibition regime.
“Our minimum goal is to get the U.S. to discuss the problem in all its magnitude and not to lock itself up in a policy that has failed,” Gaviria told the Washington Post. “Mexico and Colombia must get the U.S. to debate. The belief that there is no alternative because of electoral reasons is not acceptable.”
The commission also states that governments should treat those involved in the lowest echelons of the drug trade as victims, not criminals, and target repressive actions towards violent criminal organizations.
According to British newspaper The Guardian, the U.S. director of drug control policy, Gil Kerlikowske, has called the report “misguided” and his spokesman stated that, “Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available – as this report suggests – will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
Hours before the publication of the report, Colombian President Santos said his government “welcomes this new vision we all need.”
According to Santos, Colombia would be the first country to demand new strategies as “it is a war we have fought for a very long time.”
“If there is one country that has made sacrifices in this war on drugs it has been Colombia,” the President added.
Colombia is the world’s #1 producer of cocaine and main supplier of the illicit drug. The effectiveness of “Plan Colombia,” a Washington-Bogota initiative to jointly combat the production of coca and northward trafficking of drugs, has been subject to criticism due to mixed results.