International Panel Seeks Drug Policy Overhaul, Less Incarceration


A 21-member international panel urged a global overhaul of drug policies, calling for some drugs such as marijuana to be regulated, an end to incarceration for drug use and possession, and greater emphasis on protecting public health, reports the Associated Press. The Global Commission on Drug Policy said traditional measures like eradicating acres of illicit crops, seizing large quantities of illegal drugs, and arresting and jailing violators of drug laws have failed.

The commission issued a report yesterday pointing to rising drug production and use, citing the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s estimate that the number of users rose from 203 million in 2008 to 243 million in 2012. The commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland; British tycoon Richard Branson and former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. It was established in 2010 to promote “science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.” Annan said drug policies must be based on what works, not on policies that criminalize drug use while failing to provide access to effective prevention or treatment. “This has led not only to overcrowded jails but also to severe health and social problems,” he said.

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