Pubdate: Sun, 05 Jun 2011
Source: Khaleej Times (UAE)
Copyright: 2011 Khaleej Times


The debate on drug abuse is likely to get hotter as contending 
opinions on decriminalisation and legalisation of certain drugs are 
bound to erupt. The latest report from the Global Commission on Drug 
Policy, an international commission on drugs, has reached the 
conclusion that the global war on drugs has failed. In order to 
combat the growing number of drug abusers, the commission instead has 
urged a change of strategy, including decriminalisation and changes 
in legal regulation of certain drugs like cannabis.

Other reforms suggested by the international body offer strategic 
alternatives that may impact the efforts against drugs more 
positively than before. For instance, by shifting the focus on drug 
cartels or international criminal syndicates rather than drug users, 
farmers, couriers and middlemen, the aim is to dismantle the driving 
forces behind the proliferation of drugs. By encouraging the 
cultivation and production of the dreaded narcotics and chemical 
drugs, these syndicates have created a well-integrated illicit global 
system whose reach spreads far and wide.

While it makes sense to offer drug abusers space to turn to and thus 
encourage them to renounce their addictions, legalising drugs is a 
far different issue. Those in favour of decriminalisation 
initiatives, which may include legalising certain prohibited 
substances, cite examples of states such as the Netherlands, 
Australia and Portugal etc to prove that such initiatives have not 
led to a rise in drug abuse. However, on the flip side is the danger 
of letting even those wary of indulging in even experimental use of 
illicit substances to try their hand at it, once the fear of legal 
and criminal prosecution is removed. In addition, the report seems to 
suggest implementing such reform globally without taking into account 
the cultural and geographical differences that exist in places other 
than say Europe, South America or Mexico.

It is true that only repressive measures are not going to obtain the 
results that are desired. With almost 250 million drug abusers 
worldwide - according to UN estimates - and almost over a trillion 
dollars spent on fighting drugs over the past decade, the 
international community, especially the states suffering the most in 
terms of drug cultivation, trade and abuse are far from reversing the 
situation. This is why channelling financial resources on educating 
people about drug abuse and providing treatment for drug abusers and 
starting rehabilitation programmes for them to integrate in society 
and start earning is so important. Many states are believed to have 
started this but it is still way down on the priority scale than the 
efforts directed at other aspects of combatting drugs.

Moreover, by increasing intelligence cooperation in this domain and 
relegating more resources on drug awareness and health sector related 
to drug addiction, there is hope that drug abuse will eventually 
reduce if not be eliminated altogether.
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