London (AFP) - The global "war on drugs" has been a catastrophic failure and world leaders must rethink their approach, a group including five Nobel Prize-winning economists, Britain's deputy prime minister and a former US secretary of state said Tuesday.
An academic report published by the London School of Economics (LSE) called "Ending the Drug Wars" pointed to violence in Afghanistan, Latin America and other regions as evidence of the need for a new approach.
"It is time to end the 'war on drugs' and massively redirect resources towards effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis," they said in a foreword to the report.
"The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global 'war on drugs' strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage."
The report said "rigorously monitored" experiments with legalization and a focus on public health, minimizing the impact of the illegal drug trade, were key ways of tackling the problem instead.
The report was signed by George Shultz, the US secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and former NATO and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
It was also signed by Nobel economics prize winners Kenneth Arrow (1972), Christopher Pissarides (2010), Thomas Schelling (2005) Vernon Smith (2002) and Oliver Williamson (2009).
The report cited the large drug-related prison population in the United States, political repression in Asia, corruption and unrest Afghanistan and west Africa, violence in Latin America, HIV infections in Russia and even a global shortage of pain medication as spin-offs from the war on drugs.
"The drug war's failure has been recognized by public health professionals, security experts, human rights authorities and now some of the world's most respected economists," said John Collins, coordinator of international drug policy at the LSE.
"Leaders need to recognize that toeing the line on current drug control strategies comes with extraordinary human and financial costs to their citizens and economies."
BajaDrone you are insulting everybody in this forum including yourself with those comments. We don't worship nor condone any drug character. And weren't you the one who posted about how you sometimes spend up all night reading about cartels? Come on man. You can't come on here accusing the forum of being cartel dick riders. The reason we analyses and post about the cartels is because like you said interesting. Also a lot of are just regular joes who live along the border and in mexico, criminal justice/ history majors, law enforcement and ex-law enforcement etc.
Actually, the London School of Economics offers a complex road map on ending the current prohibition madness.
Here, in five steps, is a summation of the LSE report’s road map:
1. A “drug-free world” is not plausible.
In the opening chapter, written by Collins, the economist argues that believing we’ll live in a world free from drugs one day is not only deluded, it’s counterproductive. Collins blames prohibitionist forces in 1961 for perpetuating this fantasy—which he says still exists. In a seemingly heroic attempt to make this fantasy come true, he argues, we’ve assumed that the illicit market can be tamed through enforcement. “A global system which predominantly encourages policies that transfer the costs of prohibition onto poorer producer and transit countries, as the current system does, is an ineffective and unsustainable way to control drugs in the long term.” Collins argues for the decriminalization of drugs, which he calls a “far more effective tool.”
“People are afraid of drugs—rightly so, these substances can destroy people’s lives. But their lack of knowledge results in vitriolic reactions, overreactions.”
2. Realize that prohibition isn’t necessarily the problem.
In the third chapter, “Effects of Prohibition, Enforcement and Interdiction on Drug Use,” Jonathan P. Caulkins, the H. Guyford Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon, argues that there are benefits to prohibition—such as reduced dependence. Caulkins suggests that the current failures of prohibition are “overstated” and that the benefits may outweigh the costs. One example he offers to support his point is a group of friends who want to get stoned and listen to jazz but instead decide to go to a movie. “How much they actually enjoyed going to the movies is a loss whose value should be charged to prohibition,” he writes.
3. But prohibition isn’t the answer, either.
The fourth chapter, “Why Is Strict Prohibition Collapsing?,” written by Daniel Mejia, an associate economics professor in Colombia, and Pascual Restrepo, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT, shows the dark side of Caulkins’s argument. Classifying prohibition as a system based on “ideological positions,” the two elaborate on the violence and corruption that can result from banning drugs. Statistics to support it are staggering. Since 2007, 220,000 people have abandoned Ciudad Juárez as a result of the war on drugs, according to the London School of Economics. The war on drugs in Colombia has led to the second-largest internally displaced population in the world.
4. Stop sacrificing basic human rights.
Alejandro Madrazo Lajous, a professor in the Legal Studies Division of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE) in Mexico, argues that on top of the monetary costs of the war on drugs are the constitutional costs of “enforcing” what he views as an ideological war. “Creating an ‘exceptional’ regime of diminished fundamental rights goes against the logic of fundamental rights: that they can be universal,” he writes. “The structural design of constitutional government should not be adjusted in function of specific, purportedly transitory policies.”
5. Put an end to mass imprisonment of drug offenders.
On the heels of Madrazo’s claim, Ernest Drucker, adjunct professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, dives into one of the most costly, counterproductive byproducts of the war on drugs in America: mass imprisonment. Drucker details the grisly measures used to punish inmates brought in on drug charges in the U.S.—citing discipline that includes hard labor, severe mental and physical privations, isolation, body mutilation, and execution. The collateral effects, Drucker argues, show how imprisonment, human rights, and public health are related.
6. Make mistakes—then learn from them.
In the final chapter, UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman and Jeremy Ziskind, a crime and drug policy analyst with BOTEC Analysis, dive into the early stages of cannabis legalization in the United States. In their chapter, the two stress the importance of allowing both Colorado and Washington the freedom to pursue their marijuana initiatives with “regulatory experimentation” to—put simply—figure out what works and what doesn’t. “The places that legalize cannabis first will provide—at some risk their own populations—an external benefit to the rest of the world in the form of knowledge, however the experiments turn out,” the two write. Most important, the two stress how vital the conversation surrounding these policies is. “Both sides of the legalization debate should acknowledge that the question is complex and the range of uncertainties wide.”