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Leading World Health Commission Calls On UN To End Drug War

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Governments across the world should decriminalize minor drug use and possession and put an end to the policy of aggressive prohibition.

So says a new report from one of the world’s leading health bodies — the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission. The report highlights failures of the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs, which convened under the lofty slogan of “a drug-free world-we can do it!.”

The goal of total drug prohibition has been written into law in numerous countries, with government agencies spending billions of dollars attempting to crack down on drug trafficking and production. (RELATED: DEA Admits Total Failure To Fight Heroin In One Stunning Tweet)

In 2016, world leaders will once again gather in New York to discuss global drug policy. According to the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission, human rights, policy reform and recognition of past failures should be at the center of the meeting.

The report argues the scientific evidence and public health have been sidelined in global drug policy for the last 18 years. Instead, scientifically unfounded ideas about drug use and dependence have been allowed to run rampant and have had a major impact on policy.

They point to a 2015 report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that concluded drug use is not an issue for law enforcement. Drug use “is neither a medical condition nor does it necessarily lead to drug dependence,” the report said.

The Johns-Hopkins commission said current drug policies are contributing to an increasing risk of death from opioid overdose and adding to corruption and gang violence across Central America and Mexico, as well as the spread of HIV worldwide.

Instead, potentially dangerous drugs should be seen in the same light as tobacco, food and alcohol, where policy is more geared toward harm reduction rather than abstinence or prohibition. The commission recommends decriminalization of minor drug use and possession and increasing access to medicines and treatments that can help alleviate drug addiction.

The report’s findings were presented by Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, Joanne Csete, PhD, MPH , Adeeba Kamarulzaman, MD, and Carl Hart, PhD.

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