The Latin-American Commission on Drugs and Democracy Releases Groundbreaking Report: Says Drug War is a Failure

Press Release February 10, 2009
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Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384</p>

"This report represents a major leap forward in the global drug policy debate.

It's not the first high-level commission to call the drug war a failure, nor is it the first time any Latin American leader has criticized the prohibitionist approach to global drug control. But it is the first time that such a distinguished group of Latin Americans, including three highly regarded ex-presidents, have gone so far in their critique of U.S. and global drug policy and recommendations for what needs to be done.

This report breaks new ground in many ways, placing itself at the cutting edge of current debates on the future of global drug control policy. This is evident in its call for a "paradigm shift," in its recognition of the important role of "harm reduction" precepts and policies, in its push for decriminalization of cannabis, in its critique of "the criminalization of consumption," and, most importantly, in its conclusion that:

'The deepening of the debate concerning the policies on drug consumption must be grounded on a rigorous evaluation of the impact of the diverse alternatives to the prohibitionist strategy that are being tested in different countries, focusing on the reduction of individual and social harm.'

An ever growing number of Latin American leaders from across the political spectrum recognize that the prohibitionist approach to drug control has wreaked havoc throughout the region, generating crime, violence and corruption on a scale that far exceeds what the United States experienced during alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s. Many believe — and a handful have said publicly — that the better solution would be to abandon drug prohibition and move in the direction of legally regulating the global drug markets that are now illegal.

The members of this commission no doubt recognized that such a bold recommendation would be dismissed out of hand by the U.S. and other governments. But they had the wisdom to insist on "breaking the taboo" that has inhibited vigorous debate and analysis of all drug policy alternatives.

The seventeen members of this commission speak not just for themselves but for thousands of other distinguished Latin Americans, and many others around the world, who recognize that global drug policy cannot produce better results until open debate is no longer suppressed and censored. Hopefully this commission report will soon win the endorsements of political and other leaders throughout the world, and result quickly in legislative and other hearings in national capitals, including Washington, D.C."

Ethan Nadelmann can be contacted for comments at [email protected] or 212 613 8061.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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