EU joins the anti-drug war bandwagon

A report released on Tuesday by the European Commission “found no evidence that the global drug problem was reduced…from 1998 to 2007.”  The UN, now meeting in Vienna for the first time in 10 years to reassess global drug policy, is reaching even more dramatic conclusions: It’s worse than mere inertia…. drug policy is making ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
587832_090312_drugs2.jpg
587832_090312_drugs2.jpg
Packages of cocaine, arms, and bullets are displayed in Panama City on November 7, 2008. Panamanian police seized at least 2734 kilograms of cocaine, as well as 10 AK-47's, bullets, and five vehicles during an anti-drug operation Friday. Panama is a well-known transit point of drug trafickers. AFP PHOTO/Sky Gilbar (Photo credit should read Sky Gilbar/AFP/Getty Images)

A report released on Tuesday by the European Commission "found no evidence that the global drug problem was reduced...from 1998 to 2007." 

The UN, now meeting in Vienna for the first time in 10 years to reassess global drug policy, is reaching even more dramatic conclusions: It's worse than mere inertia.... drug policy is making matters worse, not better. UN Office of Drug and Crime's head, Antonio Maria Costa, "acknowledged that drug control policies had, as an unintended consequence, led the growth of organized crime," as the BBC put it.


A report released on Tuesday by the European Commission “found no evidence that the global drug problem was reduced…from 1998 to 2007.” 

The UN, now meeting in Vienna for the first time in 10 years to reassess global drug policy, is reaching even more dramatic conclusions: It’s worse than mere inertia…. drug policy is making matters worse, not better. UN Office of Drug and Crime’s head, Antonio Maria Costa, “acknowledged that drug control policies had, as an unintended consequence, led the growth of organized crime,” as the BBC put it.

The good news is, as former Brazilian President Cardoso told FP in a recent Seven Questions, there’s a credible way forward. And with the calamitous results of past policy now so publicly exposed, it just might be politically palpable. Cardoso suggests focusing more on public health — moving towards the “tobacco” model to educate and treat users, decreasing demand. Law enforcement is best used only to stop trafficking, not pick up petty users. Of course, we could always just legalize it. 

Sky Gilbar/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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