Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jun 2011
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2011 Associated Newspapers Ltd


The worldwide war on drugs and organised narcotics gangs has been a 
'failure' according to a leading international drugs commission.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy today urged world leaders to 
replace the system of strictly criminalising drugs and imprisoning drug users.

The group also argued that countries who use a 'law enforcement' 
approach to drug crime should focus their efforts on violent 
organised crime and drug traffickers.

In a report issued by the commission, the 19-member panel said it 
wanted to encourage governments to legalise drugs like marijuana in 
an effort to 'undermine the power of organised gangs'.

The report states: 'The global war on drugs has failed, with 
devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.'

The commission, whose panel members include former U.N. Secretary 
General Kofi Annan, and businessman Sir Richard Branson, argued that 
decriminalisation does not always result in significant increases in drug use.

Virgin Group tycoon Branson admitted in 2007 he had smoked drugs with 
his then 21-year-old son on a surfing holiday in Australia.

Current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and former U.S. 
Secretary of State George Shultz are also on the Global Commission on 
Drug Policy.

Other members of the panel include former Mexican President Ernesto 
Zedillo, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, former Colombian 
President Cesar Gaviria, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique 
Cardoso, and former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.

'Vast expenditures on criminalisation and repressive measures 
directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs 
have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption,' 
the report states.

It added: 'Apparent victories in eliminating one source or 
trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the 
emergence of other sources and traffickers.

It has also been recommended that 'fundamental reforms are urgently 
needed in national and global drug control policies'.

A further recommendation by the Commission is to replace the 
criminalisation and those who are drug users but don't hurt people 
with offers of health and treatment services.

Legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs would 'undermine the 
power of organised crime and safeguard the health and security of 
their citizens', according to the commission.

The report added: 'Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede 
public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and 
other harmful consequences of drug use.'

The commission's report added that money spent by governments on 
futile efforts to reduce the supply of drugs and on jailing people on 
drug-related offences could be better spent on different ways to 
reduce drug demand and the harm caused by drug abuse.

Meanwhile, a group of celebrities was last night branded 'naive in 
the extreme' after pleading with David Cameron to decriminalise drug 

Actresses Julie Christie, Dame Judi Dench and Kathy Burke, Left-wing 
film director Mike Leigh, singer Sting and Sir Richard Branson 
criticised drug policy in a letter to the Prime Minister.

In the open letter signed by 30 people, they demand a 'swift and 
transparent' review of drugs laws, followed by 'immediate 
decriminalisation' if the review found laws had failed.

Nearly 80,000 people in the UK were convicted or cautioned for 
possessing an illegal drug in the past year and 'most were young, 
black or poor', the letter published by campaign group Release said.

But the stars were condemned by drugs campaigners who said removing 
penalties for cannabis would send a message such drugs were safe.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom