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Legalizing Drugs Won’t Make Organized Crime Disappear: Kerlikowske


U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske told an international meeting this week that legalizing drugs will not be a “silver bullet” that will make organized crime disappear.

Instead of arresting more users and building prisons for them, Kerlikowske said governments should focus on “a science-based approach to drug addiction as a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover,” Reuters reports.

Kerlikowske told the meeting that the U.S. federal government now spends more on drug prevention and treatment than domestic law enforcement. However, the United States is continuing its efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations around the world, he added.

Some Latin American countries are considering relaxing penalties for personal drug use. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina favors legalization as a way to reduce crime and violence. Uruguay has considered a proposal to legalize marijuana.

On Wednesday, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov said the agency’s new drug report found a decline in the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world, and an increase in the use of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances.

6 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Ross
    Ross / August 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I can’t think of a single person other than U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, who says legalizing drugs will make organized crime disappear. There will always be organized crime. What will happen after legalization is that the money that is a major funding source for organized crime will be removed. Making a false claim like that one does nothing but confuse the issues. Both Heroin and Cocaine are very cheap to manufacture and it’s the risk that makes the price of them so high. For a few dollars a month or two supply could be given to addicts removing the need to steal to get the money for it. Dispensed through pharmacy like other drugs, quality would be controlled as well as monitoring use and side effects. Having to see the doctor on an ongoing basis makes for an opportunity to place the addict into detox and recovery when they have that moment of clarity and decide to make the effort to stop using. It would cost a lot less than the war on drugs now, and access to these drugs would change from high schools to the doctors office.

  2. Ken Wolski / June 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    No one said legalizing drugs will make organized crime disappear. I would love to see the U.S. government focus on “a science-based approach to drug addiction as a disease.” But first, Gil, you have to stop treating drug use as a criminal justice issue. I almost feel sorry for Kerlikowski–it’s impossible for him to make sense when defending an insane policy.

  3. Carlos / June 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    God knows that making it a crime have devastated enough peoples lives in terms of social, economics, employment discrimination, misinformation, stigma, civil rights violations. I suspect that we do not get much more effective treatment because they do not care much about these types of patients. Making a victimless crime for simple possession is insane. We all seem to be oblivious that this drug laws their foundation is based on racism and I am sure that we continued to have this drug laws to continuo to harassed minorities. And we think that we no longer need Civil Rights, when we legally violate people’s rights both civil and constitutional on a daily (if not every minute of every day) bases. Spending all this billions of dollar on law enforcement when the DEA seem to be running loose and their integrity is questionable at best. When the money can be used for research, and mapping the brain to discover safe and effective treatment.

  4. Carl Olsen / June 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Taking a bite out of crime doesn’t stop all crime, either. Take a dose of your own medicine, Gil.

  5. Perry Kaplan / June 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I’ve got news for Kerlikowske: Decriminalizing drugs won’t bring peace to the Middle East either. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. The purpose of decriminalization is not to solve the problem of organized crime, it is to stop making criminals out of people who require medical treatment.

  6. Ned / June 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Mr.K does a classic straw man argument here. Drug law reformers have never claimed that legalization of the prohibited drugs would make organized crime disappear. It would take away their single biggest profitable activity.That’s because drug production and sales are not their only business. Different crime organizations rely to differing degrees on drug sales for revenue around the world. But considering that it’s reasonable to say that worldwide at least half to three quarters of crime revenue is derived by drug sales activity, that to take their drug profits away by legalization would very seriously impact them in a way they could not easily make up for, if at all.

    He seems to be saying that because there would not be a perfect outcome, there is no reason to seek the very significant outcome that would be a certainty. It is this kind of dishonestly that makes him hard to take seriously or respect.

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