Sunday, March 8, 2009

How to stop the drug wars

100 years of prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution, The Economist writes in a leader from 5/3-09.

I agree that legalisation seems to be the best solution to a global crisis on the rise.

There's something rotten... globally!

In Denmark we are in the midst of what Danish media and politicians has named "the Gang War" (bandekrigen). Drug cartels are fighting about the Danish drug market in a more and more fiercely manner. Since August 2008 the drug war has resulted in around 50 shootings and 5 killings.

These numbers are shocking in Denmark, but they are nothing compared to other countries. From August-December there has been 2540 drug war related deaths in Mexico and more than 800 policemen and soldiers have been killed since December 2006. Gangsters are ruining the Mexican economy. In Afghanistan the drug cartels has already ruined the economy.

Honduras suffers 5-7 drug related murders a day, which led President Manuel Zelaya to call on the United States to legalize drugs. Clearly this issue is global and only a global solution is possible. A solution which forces us to rethink the criminalization of drugs, but which will have immense positive spill-over effects on troubled countries.

A public health issue, not a criminal issue
The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy has made some recommendations to President Barack Obama to consider new policies, such as decriminalization of cannabis and to treat drug use as a public health problem and not as a security problem.
The Netherlands has had a pragmatic policy of treating drug use as a public health problem and not a criminal issue through partial legalisation of soft drugs (cannabis) for some years now.

The Economist leader elaborates on the legalisation issue:
"Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated. Governments would tax and regulate the drug trade, and use the funds raised (and the billions saved on law-enforcement) to educate the public about the risks of drug-taking and to treat addiction. The sale of drugs to minors should remain banned. Different drugs would command different levels of taxation and regulation. This system would be fiddly and imperfect, requiring constant monitoring and hard-to-measure trade-offs. Post-tax prices should be set at a level that would strike a balance between damping down use on the one hand, and discouraging a black market and the desperate acts of theft and prostitution to which addicts now resort to feed their habits.

Selling even this flawed system to people in producer countries, where organised crime is the central political issue, is fairly easy. The tough part comes in the consumer countries, where addiction is the main political battle. Plenty of American parents might accept that legalisation would be the right answer for the people of Latin America, Asia and Africa; they might even see its usefulness in the fight against terrorism. But their immediate fear would be for their own children."

In Denmark parents are fearing for their children too - that they might be the next (innocent) victims of the ongoing drug war.
Decriminalisation of drugs is not an easy issue and it would certainly have to be carried out with great care, but with more and more drug-related murders all over the world, can we afford not trying the least bad solution!??

Twitter wox-pop on: "legalise drugs"
Klaus Bondam, Assistant Mayor of Copenhagen: Decriminalize cannabis - and get the drug gangs off the streets
The Economist leader: How to stop the drug wars
Wikipedia: Drugs prohibition
La Times on the Mexican drug war
Drug war has Juárez, Mexico, on verge of humanitarian crisis

California Assemblyman Introduces Bill to Legalize Pot, not with a global outlook, but as a way of raising money to the cash-strapped state:

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