Pubdate: Thu, 28 Mar 2002
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Reuters Limited
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


LONDON, - The war on drugs has failed, a British think-tank said on

Western governments have failed to understand the causes of drug abuse by
focusing on prohibition and education and should instead target the link
between poverty and drug addiction.

A report by The Foreign Policy Centre report said there are now 500 times
more drug addicts in Britain than there were in the 1960s despite rising
spending on prohibition.

"The war on drugs has been a resounding failure," Rowena Young, the report's
author, said.

"Rarely in the history of wars have so many achieved so little at such a
high cost."

The report said unemployed people are seven times more likely to use hard
drugs than people in work and that the poorest areas in Britain account for
30 times as many drug-related hospital emergencies as the richest ones.

"The key issue is not the availability of drugs, but rather the problematic
drug use caused by social exclusion," Young said.

"Any credible solutions need to address these causes if they are to have any
chance of success."

British medical experts have recently advised that cannabis be reclassified
as a low-risk drug, sparking a debate about the possible decriminalisation
of the drug which would free up police time for a crack down on hard drug

The report said resources channelled into drug prohibition had lead to rise
in seizures but failed to cut the volume of drugs on the streets where
prices have remained stable or even fallen despite rising enforcement.

Policy makers should instead look to Pakistan, India and Malaysia where
projects have combined treatment for drug abuse with job creation.

The report warned that a new National Treatment Agency, with an annual
budget of nearly 500 million pounds, will fund treatment which on its own is

Levels of heroin consumption in the UK, where the number of heroin or
morphine-related deaths rose by 110 percent between 1995 and 2000, put it
among the world's top five consumers of the drug alongside Iran and
Pakistan, the report said.

Western governments spend 62 percent of their drugs budget on prohibition,
13 percent on medical treatment and 12 percent on education.
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MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk