World leaders have called for an end to the criminalisation of drugs.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy’s annual report advocates the removal of both civil and criminal penalties for drug use and possession.
Prohibition of drugs has had “little or no impact” on the rate of drug use, the report says, with the number of drug users increasing by almost 20 per cent between 2006 and 2013 to 246 million people.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy panel includes former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, British businessman Richard Branson and the former presidents of Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.
The report warns prohibition of drugs fuels mass incarceration and executions in contravention of international law and drives human rights abuses by those who supply drugs.
It cites examples of successful decriminalisation policies, offering Portugal as the best example, which replaced criminal sanctions for drug use with civil penalties and health interventions 15 years ago.
The Committee also denounces the “barbaric actions” of Philippino President Rodrigo Duterte, who calls on the public to execute those involved in the drugs trade. More than 3,600 people were killed during Mr Duterte’s first 100 days in office as part of his brutal crackdown on drugs.
“After years of denouncing the dramatic effects of prohibition and the criminalisation of people that do no harm but use drugs on the society as a whole, it is time to highlight the benefits of well-designed and well-implemented people centered drug polices,” Former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said in a statement.
“These innovative policies cannot exist as long as we do not discuss, honestly, the major policy error made in the past, which is the criminalisation of personal consumption or possession of illicit psychoactive substances in national laws.”
The report also calls for states to abolish the death penalty for drug-related offences, implement alternatives to punishment and explore regulatory models for all illicit drugs.
Last week, the British Medical Journal called for the legalisation of illicit drugs for the first time.
Prohibition laws have failed to curb either supply or demand, reduce addiction, cut violence or reduce profits for organised crime, the journal argued, saying the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ had been a failure.
It said the ban on the production, supply, possession and use of some drugs for non-medical purposes was causing huge harm.
In the same issue, former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Baroness Molly Meacher urged the Government to reschedule cannabis for medical use and review policy on heroin-assisted treatment and called for an end to criminal sanctions for the personal possession and use of all drugs.
Read the original article by Sam Osbourne in The Independent.