By Alec Goodwin
The Global Commission on Drug Policy is calling the war on drugs a complete and utter failure.
Finally, someone has the spine to admit what everyone has known for years; that the war on drugs has been a costly, deadly fiasco.
The report, which was prepared by former world leaders and UN members such as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the former leaders of Mexico, Colombia and
Brazil, and the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, soundly condemns the war on drugs as ineffective, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and leading to rampant drug crime and death. The report is intensely critical of the United States, where we’re less concerned than other nations about treating drug addicts and users and more concerned about punishing them. According to the report, America lacks the courage to admit in public that our methods have been ineffective and counterproductive.
The commission urges the US to suspend its current drug policy and focus more on human rights and healthcare. The US spent an estimated $15 billion in 2010 fighting the war on drugs, that’s $500 dollars every second. An American citizen is arrested for a drug related crime every nineteen seconds.
Why are we wasting so much money and locking up so many people without making a dent in drug crime? Shouldn’t we be seeing some results by now? The US has been incredibly stubborn in its approach on fighting drugs, barely changing in its methods since the advent of the drug war in 1980.
The report cites a global increase of 35% in opiate use, 27% in the use of cocaine, and an 8.5% increase in the use of cocaine between 1998 and 2008. In spite of our heroic efforts, drug use isn’t just not going away, it’s getting worse. The drug cartels are getting more violent and more powerful, and the only ones being punished these days seem to be the users. The report expresses the hope that common sense will prevail. The authors hope America’s focus will be less on punishing users who harm no one and more on controlling drugs through legalization in order to undermine drug cartels. Too often people have been locked up for years for their addictions while society at large is untouched and unharmed. The war on drugs, for all the money and lives it has cost, should be focused on catching the big fish.
The US and Mexico have, of course, rejected the findings of the report, calling them “misguided”. After spending so much money on a futile project it is hard to admit failure.