10 goals for controlled re-legalization
As the drug policy reform movement gains traction around the world, it is critical that it reaches beyond its activist core and constructively address the legitimate concerns of the general public, as without its support, we are doomed to failure. The burden of proof is clearly on the drug-reformists side, as they need to overcome 100 years of official propaganda, moral panicking, fear mongering and brain washing. It is critical to be well informed, realistic and pragmatic, with clear objectives. This is one of the purposes of “World War-D”.
Therefore, I propose the following hierarchy of goals for controlled re-legalization:
- To greatly reduce, dismantle and if possible eliminate the illegal drug market. To reduce the presence and influence of organized crime. To reduce drug-related crime. The dismantling and elimination of the illegal drug market requires the dismantling of the prohibition system that created it in the first place.
- To reduce harm to existing users through safe and controlled legal access. To reduce the number of abusers/addicts; to reduce drug related deaths; to improve the health of remaining users/addicts; to improve their social integration.
- To reduce or eliminate the financial burden placed on taxpayers by the consequences of drug use and drug prohibition. To achieve taxpayer neutrality.
- To reduce initiation, especially among minors. Long-term improvements are predicated on substantially curbing initiation.
- To control and greatly minimize access to minors; eliminating access to minors altogether might be a laudable goal, but it is about as realistic as absolute sexual abstinence to reduce teen pregnancy.
- To reduce harm caused by problematic users to their proximate environment and to society at large.
- To prevent as much as possible moderate, responsible users from becoming problem users.
- To place reasonable access restrictions to the most damaging substances for new users and casual users.
- To acknowledge the legitimacy of the non-medical use of psychoactive substances and the potential danger of their abuse.
- To respect the civil liberties and lifestyle choices of informed, consenting adults as long as these choices do not intentionally endanger others. To end discrimination against users of psychoactive substances.
I believe these are realistic and attainable goals provided that the right policies are put in place. Unlike the fairly rigid prohibitionist model, there should be a lot of flexibility in the application of drug reform to allow for experimentation and adaptation to local realities. It should be obvious by now that those who wish to use psychoactive substances will go to great lengths to satisfy their desire, and it is far more advantageous for society to satisfy their need than to let the black market take care of it. The guiding concern shouldn’t be whether it is moral or immoral to provide psychoactive substances to those consenting adults who which to use them, but what is the least harmful way to do it.
Call for a global convention on psychoactive drugs – a coalition of the willing to re-legalize and control
The entire war on drugs and drug prohibition are a US fabrication. Drug prohibition was imposed to the rest of the world when it was forcibly attached to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI.
Decriminalization wouldn’t do much to solve the biggest issues created by prohibitionism in the big world: the violence, corruption and destabilization brought about by narco-trafficking, which is itself the unavoidable consequence of prohibition. While the US is not likely to re-legalize any time soon, Latin American countries are becoming increasingly restive as the time of blind obedience to US diktats is fading into memory. I, for one, am pushing for a coalition of the willing, led by Presidents Calderon and Santos, and regrouping Latin-American, European and Asian countries, to initiate controlled legalization of production and trade of all psychoactive substances. The principal objective of such a convention should be to remove the production and commerce of currently illicit drugs from the control of organized crime, and to bring it back under the control of legitimate international and national organizations. The secondary objective should be to reduce harm throughout the entire supply chain, from the producers to the users.
I do not think that such a coalition is as far-fetched as most American would like to believe. The American century is over; it ended under G.W. Bush. The world is now a vastly different place.
A growing number of retired heads of state and high-level officials are denouncing the failure of the War on Drugs and calling for a paradigm shift in drug policy. But we need heads of states and high-level officials to take a stand while in office and actually initiate profound and real drug policy reform while they are still in office.
No other heads of state on the world scene can lead and unite a coalition of the willing with the credibility and the stature of a potential Calderon-Santos alliance. Both presidents have repeatedly expressed their support for alternatives to the current highly disruptive policies.
But neither President Calderon nor President Santos are likely to make a move without strong popular support behind them.
Thus, I invite all of you to support and diffuse the Calderon-Santos Initiative, calling for Presidents Calderon of Mexico and President Santos of Colombia to take the lead of a global coalition for legalization and control of currently illicit drugs. Check http://calderon-santos.org/, as well as the attached files. Sign the open letter to Presidents Calderon and Santos, spread the word.
Drug policy reform in the making
Residents of Switzerland and the Basque Region of Spain can legally grow MJ for personal use since January 1st, 2012.
Denmark: The City Council of Copenhagen voted for legalizing marijuana. In the proposed scheme, cannabis products would be available in restricted quantities in government-run specialized stores. The government would also regulate production.
Poland: On December 9 the new Polish drug law came into effect and liberalized the drug policy. According to the new rules, the prosecutor will be able to dismiss the criminal charges if the offender possessed only small amount of drugs for personal use and he finds that punishment is not necessary.
Poles were asked about the idea of legalizing marijuana possession for personal use. On December 12th 2011, 67% of respondents answered yes, while only 32% said no – and about 1% of respondents were undecided. These results show that the public attitudes to drug policy liberalization are changing rapidly in Poland.
In the US:
Four states have asked federal officials to reclassify marijuana (Washington, Colorado, Vermont and Rhode Island.
MJ legalization initiative will be on the ballot in 2012 in Colorado, Washington, and probably California.
UK: The widely respected “The Lancet” published on January 6, 2012 a three-part Series of articles on drug use and addiction: http://www.thelancet.com/series/addiction
According to the Lancet, estimated 149—271 million people used an illicit drug worldwide in 2009. To give you a better idea, if drug users were a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world.
Some of its key findings:
- The international drug control system has not ensured adequate medical supply of opioids, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, but also in some high-income countries.
- The system has not effectively restricted the non-medical use of controlled drugs, and illicit drug production, manufacture, and use is now a global issue. Illicit drug use accounts for a substantial and increasing global burden of disease.
- The system’s emphasis on criminalisation of drug use has contributed to the spread of HIV, increased imprisonment for minor offences, encouraged nation states to adopt punitive policies (including executions, extra-judicial killings, imprisonment as a form of treatment, and widespread violations of UN-recognised human rights of drug users), and impaired the collection of data on the extent of use and harm of illicit drugs, all of which have caused harm to drug users and their families.
- The international system precludes policies that are more aligned to the risks of drug use and the adverse consequences of prohibition, such as the regulation of producers, consumers, and the conditions under which drugs are used.
- Policy experimentation requires changes to the international treaties, which are possible in principle but unlikely in practice. Other options include renunciation of the treaties and re-accession with reservations, or adoption of a new treaty.