World Leaders Say Time to Decriminalize Drugs
Next month, the UN will host the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). The primary focus of the meeting will be drug policy. The meeting will bring together politicians and world leaders from around the world. It will be the biggest meeting of its kind in nearly 20 years.
And the Global Commission on Drug Policy is already putting on the pressure. The Global Commission on Drug Policy is a group of high-ranking politicians, scholars, entrepreneurs, and activists. It includes well-known names like Kofi Annan and Richard Branson.
On March 11, the Commission released a statement calling for the UN to help end the global war on drugs.
In the statement, the group said that the war on drugs cannot adequately be addressed unless five conditions are met.
Those conditions are:
- Ending the criminalization and incarceration of drug users.
- Abolishing capital punishment for drug-related offenses.
- Empowering the World Health Organization to review the scheduling system of drugs by scientific evidence.
- Ensuring a broad spectrum of treatments for dependent people and services designed to reduce the harms of drugs.
- Allowing governments to apply different approaches to drug regulation to maximize public health and disempower organized crime.
The Commission’s statement comes largely in response to the UN’s failure so far to address the war on drugs.
Back in October 2015, the UN was supposed to make an announcement calling on governments throughout the world to legalize marijuana and other drugs.
But things stalled at the last minute and the UN never made its statement.
Now, the Global Commission on Drug Policy hopes to persuade the UN to use its upcoming meeting to make some serious changes to drug laws around the world.
“A historic opportunity to achieve a more humane and effective drug policy is at risk,” the Commission wrote.
“There is still time to get the UNGASS process back on track. This will only happen if heads of state lay the foundations for a more efficient global drug control system that puts peoples’ lives and dignity first.”
In the United States, many critics of the war on drugs say it puts too many non-violent offenders into prisons and jails. Many have also pointed out that drug laws tend to be enforced in racially different ways.
Currently, roughly 50 percent of inmates in federal prisons are there for drug-related crimes. Around 16 percent of prisoners in state prisons are in for drug-related offenses.
And despite roughly equal rates of drug use and drug crime across racial groups, black men in the U.S. are arrested anywhere from 13 to 57 times more often than white men for drug charges. African Americans and Latinos combined make up about 29 percent of the U.S. population but represent more than 75 percent of prisoners currently incarcerated for drug crimes.