Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso have delivered a devastating critique on the failed war on drugs and are calling on governments to adopt more humane and effective ways of controlling and regulating drugs.
In an op-ed on CNN.com, the two world leaders -- both members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy - write that:
"Each year, hundreds of thousands of people die globally from preventable drug-related disease and violence. Millions of users are arrested and thrown in jail. Communities all over the world are blighted by drug-related crime. Citizens see huge amounts of their taxes spent on harsh policies which are not working."
They call for decriminalization of all drugs, a public health approach to drug policy, and allowing countries to experiment with models of legal regulation to undermine organized crime.
Saying that "drug policy reform is going viral," they praised Colorado and Washington for legalizing marijuana, and applauded leaders in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Uruguay for initiating reforms. They also highlighted New Zealand's innovative new law to regulate synthetic drugs and the newly-formed West African Commission on Drugs.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, weighed in on the significance of Kofi Annan and President Cardoso's advocacy.
"The Global Commission, led by President Cardoso, has played a pivotal role in transforming global dialogue about drug policy," said Nadelmann. "Its influence will only grow now that Kofi Annan has embraced drug policy reform as a personal priority both globally and with respect to the work of his foundation in Africa. Policy options that were readily mocked and dismissed just a few years ago are now integral to planning for a 21 century global drug control regime to replace the failed prohibitionist regime of the last century."