The Los Angeles Times, and just about every other newspaper that covers world news, is reporting today that the Global Commission on Drug Policy, an influential think-tank made up of world leaders, has just issued a report calling the war on drugs "a costly failure" and calling on the United States and other governments to end "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others." On top of that, the commission recommended legalizing drugs, especially marijuana, as a way to end the influence of criminal organizations and drug cartels over the world.
Members of the commission include Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, Brazil's Henrique Cardoso, and Colombia's Cesar Gaviria, who pointed to last year's Proposition 19 as evidence that when it comes to pot legalization, "people are changing their minds."
The report includes 11 specific recommendations, on everything from increasing spending on drug education and going after violent drug gangs to reducing sentences for drug users and small-scale dealers and legalizing marijuana. "[N]ational authorities and the UN need to review the scheduling of different substances," the report states. "The current schedules, designed to represent the relative risks and harms of various drugs, were set in place 50 years ago when there was little scientific evidence on which to base these decisions. This has resulted in some obvious anomalies - cannabis and coca leaf, in particular, now seem to be incorrectly scheduled and this needs to be addressed."
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Not surprisingly, the commission's report is being rejected by both the Obama administration and the Mexican government of Felipe Calderon, who came to office promising to take down the cartels, and whose efforts to do so has so far led to almost 40,000 civilians being killed in the crossfire. "Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated," responded Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesperson/hack for the White House's drug policy office. "Making drugs more available -- as this report suggests -- will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe."