Activists marched from the State Department to the White House Friday morning and called for President Barack Obama to take a more serious leadership role in the fight against international drug prohibition policies.
The march in D.C. was mirrored by protests in 150 cities around the world following the release of the United Nations 2015 World Drug Report. June 26 marks the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. U.S. activists are using this as an opportunity to point out that the drug war simply isn’t working. They’re also demanding Obama halt aid to countries that invoke the death penalty in cases of nonviolent drug offenses.
As noted in the World Drug Report, despite enforcement efforts, the production and use of illicit drugs have stayed relatively constant, with some movement upward. Global opium poppy cultivation reached a point not seen since the end of the 1930s. THC potency in cannabis is rising in Europe and the United States because of a “rapid advancement in cannabis plant cultivation techniques.” From 1993 to 2008, THC levels jumped from 3.4 to 8.8 percent in the United States. Recent marijuana seizures in the US indicate the number is much higher in 2013, moving up to 12.6 percent. Since states jumped on the legalization train, marijuana use among users older than 12 has crept from 24.7 percent in 2012 to 25.8 percent in 2013.
Use of cocaine, however, is trending downward in Canada and the United States.
“The World Drug Report has dutifully laid out what some of the key harms of the current system are. But the report fails to note that the system itself is a cause of those harms, not a solution for them,” said David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org, which co-organized the D.C. march, in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Prohibiting drugs sends both use and the trade in drugs into a criminal underground, generating untold profits for drug lords and causing terrible harms to many users.”
A group of 100 organizations wrote a letter in May asking for the United Nations to allow countries to legalize marijuana without throwing around allegations of treaty violations. The letter argues that human rights obligations take precedence over drug control treaties. (RELATED: Group Asks The UN Not To Accuse Countries That Legalize Marijuana Of Treaty Violations)
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