Commission: War on Drugs is a Failure

June 2nd, 2011
in econ_news

drug-paraphernalia Econintesect:  A blue ribbon panel of world leaders has completed a study on how the world has been dealing with the problem of wide-spread recreational use of narcotics and drugs.  Their conclusion:  The war on drugs is a total failure.  The report issued by the commission urges decriminalizing drug usage and recommends that governments experiment with regulation of drug distribution.  The emphasis is focused on MJ (cannabis) but a wider scope of legalization and regulation for other drugs is recommended.

Follow up:

From the executive summary of the 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.

The reports states that in 2008 there were 17 million users each for opiates and cocaine and 160 million for cannabis.  The increases over the preceeding 10 years was 34% (opiates), 27% (cocaine) and 8.5% (cannabis).  These numbers, combined with the increased violence among the drug traffickers, many violent acts involving the surrounding communities, are offered as direct evidence of the drug war failure.

The report also indicates that public health is also harmed by the current policy.  (See executive summary excerpt, above.)  The data presented:


The report also emphaiszes the discrepancy between how the United Nations has classified drugs and how an idependent panel of health professionals ranked them:



Economist Elliott Morss has written at GEI Opinion about the economic advantages of legalizing drugs.  Morss estimated that the federal annual budget deficit would be reduced by $32 billion and state budgets by $50m billion. 

Sources:  Reuters,  GEI Opinion and Global Commission on Drugs Report


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