Skip To Content

    Major Report: The Drug War Has Failed, Legalize Marijuana

    A blue-ribbon commission on international drug policy, including former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and billionaire Richard Branson, says that the "War on Drugs" has been lost. The prestigious panel recommends decriminalizing marijuana and shifting enforcement emphasis to treatment rather than incarceration.

    • Marijuana for medicinal use is shown at One on One Patient's Association in San Diego. (AP Photo/The San Diego Union-Tribune, David Brooks) NEW YORK (AP)--The global war on drugs has failed with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world, argues a new report to be released Thursday. Compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former heads of state, a former U.N. secretary-general and a business mogul, the report calls on governments to end the criminalization of marijuana and other controlled substances.

    • "Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won," the report said. The 19-member commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. official George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson and the current prime minister of Greece.

    • An unidentified man smoking medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Instead of punishing users who the report says "do no harm to others," the commission argues that governments should end criminalization of drug use, experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need. The commission called for drug policies based on methods empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development.

    • Federal police present to the news media a cache of weapons that were seized when they detained nearly 50 suspects of two major drug cartels in Mexico City, Saturday May 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar) The commission is especially critical of the United States, which its members say must lead changing its anti-drug policies from being guided by anti-crime approaches to ones rooted in health care and human rights. "We hope this country (the U.S.) at least starts to think there are alternatives," former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria told The Associated Press by phone. "We don't see the U.S. evolving in a way that is compatible with our (countries') long-term interests."

    • Forensic workers load a truck with two bodies after a gun-battle with drug cartels broke out in Acapulco, Mexico, Monday, May 9, 2011. The office of White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said the report was misguided. "Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available as this report suggests will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe," Office of National Drug Control Policy spokesman Rafael Lemaitre said. That office cites statistics showing declines in U.S. drug use compared to 30 years ago, along with a more recent 46 percent drop in current cocaine use among young adults over the last five years. The report cited U.N. estimates that opiate use increased 34.5 percent worldwide and cocaine 27 percent from 1998 to 2008, while the use of cannabis, or marijuana, was up 8.5 percent.