A new report by a group of current and former world leaders recommends that the United States and other governments end the criminalization of drug use. The group urges governments to experiment with new ways to legalize and regulate marijuana to cut drug cartel profits. The report comes from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, the current prime minister of Greece and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The group urges governments to improve treatment services for drug users, according to the Los Angeles Times. The report says governments’ approach to reducing drug use has been a failure, and cites statistics from the United Nations indicating that worldwide marijuana use rose more than 8 percent and cocaine use grew by 27 percent between 1998 and 2008. An estimated 250 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, the report states, adding, “We simply cannot treat them all as criminals.”
The U.S. government’s response to the report was negative. “Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,” Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said.
The Obama Administration has taken action in several areas to reduce drug use, including requesting $1.7 billion for drug prevention programs in 2012, up 7.9 percent from the previous year, the article notes. Administration officials have also supported the use of drug courts, where judges can offer sentences of treatment and other terms instead of jail time. The Administration also plans to expand programs that help drug offenders released from prison transition back into their communities.