Wednesday, June 1, 2011

High-profile panel urges non-criminal approach to world drug policy



The report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, was swiftly dismissed by the U.S. and Mexico.Calling the global war on drugs a costly failure, a group of high-profile world leaders is urging the Obama administration and other governments to end "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others."

A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, recommends that governments try new ways of legalizing and regulating drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to deny profits to drug cartels.

The recommendation was swiftly dismissed by the Obama administration and the government of Mexico, which are allied in a violent 4 1/2 -year-old crackdown on cartels that has killed more than 38,000 people in Mexico.

"The U.S. needs to open a debate," former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, a member of the panel, said by telephone from New York, where the report is scheduled to be released Thursday. "When you have 40 years of a policy that is not bringing results, you have to ask if it's time to change it."

An advance copy of the report was provided to The Times.

Three of the report's Latin American signatories, Gaviria and former Presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, made similar recommendations two years ago. Their views failed to change the enforcement-based approach that dominates drug policies worldwide.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, a conservative, has made the battle against drug cartels a centerpiece of his administration. Although the growing death toll has stirred widespread public dismay in Mexico, Calderon shows no sign of turning back before his six-year term ends next year. A poll on security matters released Wednesday found broad public opposition in Mexico to legalizing drug sales.

The U.S. government has backed the Mexican crackdown with law enforcement equipment, training and encouraging words from President Obama.

"Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe," said Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Although the Obama administration has emphasized a "public health" approach to drug policy, officials have taken a hard line against legalization.

"Legalizing dangerous drugs would be a profound mistake, leading to more use, and more harmful consequences," drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said this year.

Administration officials dispute the idea that nothing can be done to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States. A spokesman for the White House drug agency said U.S. consumption peaked in 1979, when surveys showed that 14% of respondents had used illegal drugs in the previous month. Now that figure has dropped to 7%.

"This is not a problem for law enforcement alone," Kerlikowske said in February at the George Washington University in Washington.

In its 2012 budget, the administration has requested $1.7 billion for drug prevention programs, a 7.9% increase from the previous year.

Administration officials have promoted the use of drug courts where judges can sentence offenders to treatment and other terms as alternatives to jail time. The White House also is working to expand reentry programs that aim to reduce recidivism rates by assisting the nearly 750,000 drug offenders released from prison each year to transition more easily back into communities.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who has examined U.S. drug policy, said the Obama administration has pushed the issue in a "considerably better direction. Nonetheless, she added, "a lot of it stayed at the level of strategy and rhetoric."

"If [Obama] is going to spend his political capital on something, it won't be drug policy," said Felbab-Brown, author of "Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs."

Gaviria, the former Colombian president, said he saw signs of a shift in opinion last year, when Californians voted on a ballot measure that would have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Although the measure failed, "people are changing their minds," he said.

The new report said the world's approach to limiting drugs, crafted 50 years ago when the United Nations adopted its "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs," has failed to cut the supply or use of drugs. The report, citing figures from the world body, said global marijuana consumption rose more than 8% and cocaine use 27% between 1998 and 2008.

The group cited a U.N. estimate that 250 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, concluding, "We simply cannot treat them all as criminals."

More treatment options for addicts are needed, the report said. And it argued that arresting and incarcerating "tens of millions" of drug-producing farmers, couriers and street dealers have not answered economic needs that push many people into the trade.

The assessment cited studies of nations, such as Portugal and Australia, that found decriminalizing the use and possession of at least some drugs has not led significantly to greater use.

The group's members include former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.

In Mexico, thousands have died in drug-related violence since late 2006, when Calderon deployed the military in a stepped-up fight against organized crime. Most of the deaths stem from turf wars between rival trafficking gangs.

Last month, tens of thousands took to the streets in Mexico City to protest the violence and demand an end to the drug war. Calderon says it would be irresponsible to give up the fight now.

Calderon criticized the legalization measure in California, saying it would undermine his government's crime fight. The Mexican president has said he is open to differing views on the issue but that it would be "absurd" to consider legalization in Mexico as long as narcotics are barred north of the border, where the massive demand determines the prices and profitability of the drug trade.

Other analysts reject the notion that curbing drug profits through legalization would cut overall crime, arguing that many violent trafficking gangs have broadened into other criminal activities, such as kidnapping, extortion and producing and selling pirated merchandise.

29 comments:

  1. These are not liberals international criticizing the Mexican and US government approach militarizing further the Americas region through their blind and dead end 'drug wars'. They are all conservative figures in their own right.

    What's really is the big truth here, is that Barack Obama is turning out to be nothing more nor less than a Third Dubya/ Cheney term in presidential office. Thanks, Centrist Corporate Democrats....NOT. This is not why people voted for you hacks!

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  2. We need to take a closer look at our prison system, its a business and if we legalise any drugs there would be too many empty cells and thats not good for business. The war on drugs escalted in colombia and moved to our neighbors in mexico if changes arent made soon it will engulf the rest of our country just ask the people from south texas dealing with the spillover no one talks about.

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  3. The war on drugs is a war on the people.

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  4. Imagine a world where convenience stores feature ads for heroin and meth and crack cocaine being displayed at child's eye level height so that our sons and daughters can be indoctrinated into taking those drugs.
    How about driving on roads where stoned out junkies are constantly driving among us. Or how about our coworkers taking a lunch break to shoot themselves up for a quick high? Or what about your cardiac surgeon being stoned out on coke as I knew one cardiac surgeon to be while doing operations?
    These are but a tiny fraction of the "benefits" people are asking for when they beg for drugs to be legalized.

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  5. I don't understand at all why the Obama administration is not considering legalizing drugs. I mean, has making them illegal worked at all? Of course not, anybody who wants drugs can still get them -- so much so that the US, embarrassingly, has the highest demand for drugs in the world. I feel humiliated to live in the same country as numerous drug addicts due to high prices.

    And not only has making drugs illegal not stopped them whatsoever, but it may have increased drug use. After all, why else would the US have such huge demand for drug consumption? Not only that, but as everybody here probably knows, this mistaken war has massively increased violence in many countries like Mexico, where it keeps getting worse and worse. Ugh, if it weren't for this drug war, I doubt Monterrey, once one of the safest cities in Mexico, would be having this ever-increasing violence, with those horrible, horrible Zetas taking control of it. That alone proves the war should have never taken place in the first place.

    So anyway, why not legalize drugs? Better yet, why not heavily tax them? That's already the case with cigarettes (at least in my state). That way, the government can make loads of money (which would hopefully help this extremely broken economy in the past few years) instead of horrible psychopathic criminals who have no regard for anybody's lives at all, and it would still deter people from being drug addicts.

    Also, need I mention that the US has the highest rate of incarceration? Why do you think that is? It's because many drug users are put in jail, despite them not being violent and sometimes not causing harm to others. Just see this for yourself: Search for "War on Drugs" on Wikipedia, and scroll down until you see a graph with the US incarceration rate. Look closely at the graph, particularly where the war on drugs started circa 1970, and look at the consequent incarceration rate. No other country is like this. How very embarrassing. And meanwhile, there are many people who work for drug cartels that get away with murder -- several times. What is worse: murder or drug use? You decide.

    So, despite my severe hatred towards drugs and the fact that I never plan to destroy my body with any drugs, I seriously think that it should be legalized because the current approach simply isn't working. It's that simple. Remember Prohibition? That didn't work, and neither is this war on drugs -- history is repeating itself!

    The only argument that I can possibly see against legalizing drugs is that drug cartels have resorted to kidnapping, among other things. But denying cartels of profits from drugs definitely helps cut off their revenue stream, and the kidnapping/extortion/etc. needs to be dealt with separately (for example, weed out corrupt cops and pay non-corrupt cops better than what they have been paid now).

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  6. People get over yourselfs. Altering one's conciousness has been around since man became man. It starts as kids when we spin around in circles and get dizzy, and we love that feeling. Then from there its a mad house. HUMANS love drugs, quit trying to police my wants and needs. A criminal is different than a junkie.

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  7. anon @June 2, 2011 6:24 AM

    i agree... pero ...sabe

    we already have a world where the children are constantly bombarded by adds on tv for every conceivable form of medication for the slightest malady

    i am not advocating adds for crack or meth or heroin..

    but if we reduce this type of addiction to a level of treatable disease it could remove the attraction of using them (drugs) as a form of rebellion or social resistance

    no young people want to be associated with old weak, sick, fucked up people ...

    but acting the wild rebel ..living on the edge ..flaunting societal rules is a major attractant

    remove this ..make it a common thing and the youth will be less likely to be drawn to it

    legalize ..regulate..control it.. reduce it..take the enormous profit from it ..remove the social attraction ...

    put this genie back in the bag

    what are our options at this point?

    ..prohibition has failed

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  8. These guys are educated fools. Where is the poster child for a country where legalization has worked? There is not one.

    BB has failed to report it but they have now found more fosas. This time in Linares, NL. These guys are criminals pure and simple. We cannot look at how bad these guys behave and think that all we need to do is legalize and it will go away. These guys will just move on to sequestros and extortion, etc. We can not just run behind them and legalize everything. The only answer is the strong arm of the law.

    I am a former druggie and part of my job is helping alcoholics and druggies. You need to take a real good look at the destroyed lives - car accidents, broken homes, abused children, self serving desires and you will realize how bad it is. Don't tell me you can handle it. A person can be a functional drunk all their live but the truth is that they are less than their potential. Is your life that bad that you need to hide behind drugs and alcohol? How very sad.

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  9. Why would the US want to legalize drugs? Tons of legislation, money to implement, political friction, to what end? To see violence possibly go down in mexico? To possibly see less crime? For the most part the drug war works fine, most americans are safe, most americans don't use drugs, so why throw a wrench in it

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  10. I'm sorry folks, but if any of you think that the "war on drugs" is a war we are going to win, then you have mistaken. Drugs are here people. Drugs are here to stay. You can't win this war. How can one call an addict a crminal? First drugs are introduced (by government), now that people are addicted, you're going to throw them all in prison? Please. Also 70% of street dealers are actually doing it to support their habbit.

    Since our government and a lot of people are set in their ways, we will probably end up fighting the war on drugs for many years to come, in the process killing thousands of people, and hurting thousands of families. And in the end, drugs will still be here, drug cartels will still be in power, and billions of dollars will have been wasted.

    People are so stupid.

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  11. @June 2, 2011 8:44 AM

    You Sir/Ma'am are very smart, I couldn't agree more! Good Job. One thing tho. You mention kidnapping/extortion/etc while DTO will turn to that if drugs were legalized no one is demanding to be kidnapped or to be exhorted. So with an effective police plan it can easily be rooted out, like in the US. Its very different where the demand of drugs keeps the market alive.

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  12. @ 6:24 you use really dumb arguments.
    ["Imagine a world where convenience stores feature ads for heroin and meth and crack cocaine being displayed at child's eye level height so that our sons and daughters can be indoctrinated into taking those drugs."] i can walk out my front door and in 1 hour have heroin in my hands. thanks drug war!

    ["How about driving on roads where stoned out junkies are constantly driving among us."] you mean the drunk drivers that already kill thousands each year? it is illegal to drive intoxicated no matter what the drug is.

    ["Or how about our coworkers taking a lunch break to shoot themselves up for a quick high?"]
    what the hell do i care? its their bodies they are killing, as long as it doesn't affect their work or me.

    ["Or what about your cardiac surgeon being stoned out on coke as I knew one cardiac surgeon to be while doing operations?"] there are plenty of doctors already on coke, just not when they operate unless they want to get sued.

    you are arguing based on emotion, i dont ever hear anti-drug advocates talk about banning alcohol.

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  13. Drugs are already affecting you and I, porno.
    Rising health care costs in the US? A big part of that goes to detoxification efforts and malpractice insurance against stoned doctors (more than you know). Much of that goes toward treating two legal drugs in alcohol and smoking. We are all paying for that, whether we like it or not.
    Kids who do drugs often commit additional crimes to support their habit or endanger others by their habit. Guys like porno have never wxperienced the pain of losing a loved one due to some addict's crime, as they don't feel "emotion". Besides, we are already paying a ton of taxpayer money to incarcerate the people who cannot control themselves once drugs take control of their lives.
    The bottom line is that every taxpayer in America is already shouldering the burden of taking care of people who do legal drugs, let alone the illegal ones that really mess people up. We don't need any more guys like porno pretending that legalizing drugs is going to make all our lives better.
    10:24's advice as a former addict who is trying to help other addicts is the only other voice of sanity here. He sees most clearly how damaging the path of drugs is and how important it is to keep our younger generation from falling into its trap.

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  14. "son, i better never catch you doing drugs! now get me another beer out the fridge."

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  15. @June 2, 2011 10:41 AM

    "These guys are educated fools. Where is the poster child for a country where legalization has worked? There is not one. "

    Where is the poster child for a country where legalization has worked?

    Ever heard of prohibition? The answer is The United States! And yes alcohol is a form of drug.

    Prohibition never worked and would have never worked. Like someone said before and I will say it again.

    "oh, wait a minute, maybe I missed some news reporting Budweiser gunmen shooting Heineken representatives and skinning them alive. Yes, that's it... don't legalize drugs, because look at the horrible booze cartels that kept growing after alcohol was re-legalized in the U.S... "

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  16. Oh brother, next we are going to hear Ardent tell us US Soldiers have PTSD because they love to kill people.

    Ardent, you really piss me off with your lies and you insult every soldier laying in rest at every Military Cemetery in the USA.

    You really believe Soldiers just love to kill don't you ?, listen up bud, we hate it, we hate it so much, we come home half crazy from doing it and you say we love to kill ???.

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  17. @ 1:32 i have dealt with the pain of drugs, my dad was addicted,until he broke loose. that drug was alcohol! the drug war is a big waste of money,resources and incarcerates some people for non-violent offenses who don't belong in jail with murderers,rapists and thieves.

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  18. Anonymous 3:15pm, if you want to write diatribes 'bout what you think I am saying, at least do so on the correct threads. Chihuahua! At least get that part right if nothing else...

    'Oh brother, next we are going to hear Ardent tell us US Soldiers have PTSD because they love to kill people.'

    You are writing about nothing that I have said here on this article about 'world drug policy'. I mentioned that I worked with soldiers coming back to the States with military dxs of PTSD in a completely different spot on BB and then you go off on a tangent against that on this totally different thread! ///////////// Weird! And for the record, I never said what you say I did. Don't just go and make up stuff!

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  19. Texcoco Mex said.

    Legalize Marijuana only. All other drugs represent a high risk. The Marijuana can go on the same regulations as liquor.

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  20. I am not interested in taking the advice of any Latin American leaders with regard to drugs or politics. I am also not interested in consuming any drug that will make me stupid. (Or perhaps stupider.) The best way to allow a government to control a population is to dumb them down.
    As John Wayne said "Life is hard: it's harder if you're stupid."
    Imjustagirl

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  21. Anon
    @June 2, 2011 10:41 AM

    good one about the bud wiser and hiny kine guys not shooting it out..

    that is exactly what happened during prohibition..didn't i read somewhere that the gulf cartel got their start smuggling booze then...

    take a lesson

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  22. I refuse to support Druggies,illegals, and lazy assed 4th gen welfare, with My tax money. If they are self sufficient and get no "Entitlments" then they can smoke shoot whatever. Keep in mind Druggies are lousey PARENTS,WORKERS,They take,not produce, they need to be at least discouraged.

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  23. I refuse to support teabags!!!!

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  24. That`s cause you live off their TeAXbaggErS. Get it??

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  25. Legalization will not solve any of the problems in Mexico or the United States, as it pertains to ending the Drug War! Think about it..you are dealing with criminal organizations (drug cartels). They are criminals involved in murder, corruption, kidnapping, etc..these are not harmless business men trying to make a living. They are ruthless, and simply legalizing the "product" they manufacture, distribute, and sell isn't going to make them kinder or gentler. What you think, after legalization the drug cartels are going to simply disappear..Not!! There will be another out break of violence among the cartels for the monopolization of the now legal drug trade. Legalization will simply blur the line between right and wrong.

    When your talking about legalization of drugs, where do you draw the line..are we talking all drugs, in general? To include doctor perscribed type medicine? I mean your willing to legalize pleasure drugs..and how are you going to enforce the obvious regulations that would need to be involved..like age limit. And as far as heavy taxation..what a joke..why am I going to pay for expensive drugs, when I can simply go to Mexico and get them cheap without tax, from the newly formed blackmarket, which no doubt will pop up! After aquiring the legally purchased drugs in Mexico, I can just smuggle them across the border...ahhhh..that would be illegal! The point is...same shit with legalization..just different rules!

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  26. @June 3, 2011 1:55 PM

    This idiot obviously he forgot to read other people's comments.

    "There will be another out break of violence among the cartels for the monopolization of the now legal drug trade. Legalization will simply blur the line between right and wrong."

    Really? Study and read on the prohibition of alcohol? Like someone on top said do you see news reporting Budweiser gunmen shooting Heineken representatives the answer is NO!

    "Yes, that's it... don't legalize drugs, because look at the horrible booze cartels that kept growing after alcohol was re-legalized in the U.S... "

    Do you see that after the legalization of booze? NO! And the same effect will happen in drugs.

    Once legalization took effect violence died in the US. And your talk about getting drugs from Mexico is stupid and far-fetched. Its laughable at best. Do you see people crossing the border to buy cheaper alcohol? No! Overall it would take billions and billions of dollars out of these organizations! Period! 40 years of a drug war and what are the results? The same as 40 years ago. Prohibition never worked and would have never worked!

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  27. To the Pendejo teabag that is insinuating that i live off of the Teabag taxes its the other way around. why do i have to pay off their medicare or their Social Security?
    buy their drugs for them?
    get it? Drugs.

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  28. @June 3- 5:19PM

    Obviously you have no idea what your talking about..fool. You can't compare the prohibition days of alcohol to modern day drug prohibition. What are you stupid or what? Different time, era, strategy, way of thinking moron. Besides there's no sense in arguing the point..cause it's never going to happen (legalization).

    Read and study about alcohol prohibition? WTF are you serious...you the think the drug violence is going to end by legalizing drugs? Read my post again..these guys are criminals engaged in murder, bribery, kidnapping...the list goes on and on. What you think is going to happen? They are going to change from being violent and ruthless to caring members of society all because drugs are legal now? Your argument makes no sense and has absolutely no merit. Let me ask you something, if you were engaged in an illegal operation making billions and billions of dollars and now because of newly legalization laws have passed, you stand to make only millions of dollars, would you get out of that business? Didn't think so asshole..as long as money can be made..it doesn't matter what laws you pass. So, keep studying/researching past events that have nothing or little to due to modern day problems.

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  29. So, all of the people in favor of legalization..what's your solution to the myriad of other problems the drug cartels are in engaged in? Like kidnapping, theft on a large scale, human smuggling, etc..What..you gonna legalize those crimes to? What a joke!

    LEGALIZATION OF DRUGS won't change shit in Mexico because the poor social/economic conditions (distribution of wealth) will remain the same. You want know why..the drug violence isn't rampant (out of control) in the United States like Mexico?..it's the difference of the social/economic opportunities that are available! Mexicans are not illegally crossing the border into the United States because they no longer want to be Mexicans..It's opportunity!

    BTW, more people have died from alcohol related deaths from 2001-2005 (estimated 79,000 a year x 5= 395,000) in the U.S. than in Mexico's drug war, since Calderon took office! Your looking at +40,000 drug violence related deaths in Mexco in 5 years. In the U.S. (2001-2005), +200,000 people were killed in car crashes involving alcohol (DWI) alone! The stats are from the CDC. You guys are right legalization works! LOLOLOL..think about how many of those 395,000 people would still be alive, if alcohol was illegal..just something to think about! Remember, for the most part (not all) the people who died (395,000) were law abiding citizens! You can argue all day long with regards to legalization but the numbers don't lie.

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