Ending the Global Drug War: Voices from the Front Lines


As noted by Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum last week, the Global Commission on Drug Policy (which includes several Latin American ex-Presidents and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan) issued a report called "Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work." Included were recommendations for forms of drug legalization, regulation and decriminalization of personal use. Sullum's takeaway from the report: 

Citing "the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies," Annan et al. argue that "harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies must be replaced by more humane and effective policies shaped by scientific evidence, public health principles and human rights standards." In contrast with the Obama administration's idea of drug policy reform, the commission says force is not an appropriate response to drug use: Governments not only should stop arresting and jailing people who consume psychoactive substances that politicians do not like; they should "stop imposing 'compulsory treatment' on people whose only offense is drug use or possession."

The commissioners also recommend alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders such as farmers, mules, and street dealers, urging law enforcement agencies to "target the most violent and disruptive criminal groups" instead. But they add that "the most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of the global drug prohibition regime and advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation."

In 2011, Reason TV spoke with a number of the statesmen who had a hand in the report, as well as journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Mary Anastasia O'Grady:

"Ending the Global Drug War: Voices from the Front Lines" About 6 minutes. Produced and Edited by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Joshua Swain, with help from Seth McKelvey.?? Graphics by Meredith Bragg.

Original release date was December 13, 2011 and the original writeup is below.

"Ever since the War on Drugs, everything has hit the fan," says Romesh Bhattacharji, former Narcotics Commissioner of India. Rather than continue the unnecessary and costly drug war, Bhattacharji advises the United States to simply "Relax, take it easy, [and] tolerate."

Last month, at the Cato Institute's "Ending the Global War on Drugs" conference, Bhattacharji's sentiments were echoed by ex-drug czars, cops, politicians, intellectuals, liberal and conservative journalists, and even the former President of Brazil. Reason.tv attended the event and spoke with a number of the featured speakers, including:

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal

Tucker Carlson, The Daily Caller

Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, Speaker of the House of Deputies, Uruguay

Leigh Maddox, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; University of Maryland School of Law

Enrique Gomez Hurtado, former Senator, Colombia

Larry Campbell, Senator, Canada

Romesh Bhattacharji, former Narcotics Commissioner, India

Eric Sterling, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

Harry G. Levine, Queens College (N.Y.)

Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Cato Institute

About 6.15 minutes.?? Produced and Edited by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Joshua Swain, with help from Seth McKelvey.?? Graphics by Meredith Bragg.

For more Reason coverage on the Drug War, go here.

For Cato Institute Drug War coverage and research, go here.