New Straits Times, Malaysia: “Practical road map to tackle drug menace”

POLICY published its new report, “Regulation — The Responsible Control of Drugs”, at a press conference in Mexico City, followed by a public event.

The report examines how governments can take control of illegal drug markets through responsible regulation, thereby weakening criminal organisations that profit from them.

The report also provides a practical road map that tackles the real implications and recognises the difficulties of transitioning from illegal to legally regulated drug markets.

It offers concrete answers regarding the organisational capacity of state institutions to regulate and control a legal market of potentially dangerous products.

The report further highlights the challenges facing impoverished populations that constitute the “working class” of the illegal drug markets, and offers possible ways forward to deal with the risks inherent to the resilience of organised crime.

Finally, it calls for reform of the prohibition-based international drug control system, which is compromising a universal and holistic approach to the “drug problem”.

“This report provides a coherent account of what the legal regulation of drugs can look like in a real-life context, based on scientific evidence and current regulatory frameworks for legal substances,” says Ruth Dreifuss, chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and former president of Switzerland.

“It draws particular attention to the risks associated with overcommercialisation and the need to learn from mistakes in regulating alcohol, tobacco and prescription opioids.

“The international drug control system has failed to achieve its objectives in terms of the supply of, and demand for, drugs. It needs to adapt quickly to the reality that an increasing number of member states are calling for or have already implemented reforms which are incompatible with the framework it established.

“The gap that has developed between the expectations created by that framework and the reality on the ground needs to be faced up to. A new system is urgently needed which will support countries to implement effective drug policies.”

The Global Commission on Drug Policy recommends that policymakers open local and national participatory processes to shape the reforms and collect evidence on the legal regulation of drugs.

It also recommends that such reforms be incremental, starting with pilot projects for the regulation of lower potency substances.

The commission was established in 2011 by political leaders, cultural figures and globally influential personalities from the financial and business sectors. It comprises 22 members, including 12 former heads of state or government and two Nobel Prize laureates. Its mission is to promote evidence-based drug policy reforms at international, national and regional levels.

These reforms must promote public health, social integration and safety goals, with a strict regard for human rights.

Seven reports have been issued, beginning in 2011 with “War on Drugs”, which details the extent of the failure and damage of five decades of prohibition and punitive measures.


Communications officer, Global Commission on Drug Policy