Ex-Colombia president Santos calls for overhaul of global drug policies

By Juan Manuel Santos

Read the interview on La Prensa Latina Media

Bogotá, Dec 7 (EFE).- Former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday called for all drugs to be regulated rather than prohibited, saying that current international conventions on narcotics had failed.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, whose eventful presidency spanned 2010-18, is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which in a report Tuesday urged global leaders to review existing conventions on drug control.

“The international policies and legislation on this topic have been a failure,” Santos told Efe in an interview conducted via videoconference.

“After 50 years, today we are in a worse place than we were when we approved these conventions, and we have to change focus and this comes down to just one single word – prohibition.”

The latest report from the Commission calls for prohibition policies to be replaced by systems of regulation.

“There are many reasons to request this, reasons based on evidence and on the experience of what we have suffered with the current policies,” Santos added.

The Commission also recommended that the criteria for classifying controlled substances be uprooted from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and handed over to the World Health Organization, so that the campaign against drugs takes on a new approach centered around public health.

Santos said that the public perception of drugs in places like Europe and the United States has changed dramatically in recent decades.

He added that existing international conventions on drugs were hampering countries looking to advance with more progressive policies, although he acknowledged that some nations like China, Russia and many governments in the Middle East maintained an inflexible stance when it comes to the severity of drug penalties.