Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso called for an end to the war on drugs in an Op-Ed on CNN this morning. Citing the drug war’s funding of organized crime, the cruelty of treating addiction with incarceration and the ultimate ineffectiveness of current policy, the two called on leaders around the world to adopt an approach involving regulation that puts “people’s health and safety first” rather than one involving criminalization.
The article comes in the wake of countries the world over including Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands and even some West African countries successfully implementing drug policy reforms in recent years.
“For years we believed that if you enacted harsh criminal penalties, drug use and its attendant consequences would go down,” said Retired Narcotics Detective Russ Jones, who enforced drug laws everywhere from Latin America to China and the former Soviet Union and now speaks for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. “So we tried that, and it turns out not to be true. In fact, it turns out prohibition makes drug use that much worse because we don’t know the potency or purity of the product; dealers sell to anyone, including kids; and all of the money raised goes straight to organized crime. No one who studies this issue can believe prohibition has done much of anything but ruin a whole lot of lives unnecessarily.”
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group of cops, judges, prosecutors, corrections officials and other law enforcement professionals who, after dedicating their lives to fighting in the war on drugs, now advocate for its end.