Does Your U.S. Senator Want to End the War on Drugs?

America's war on drugs is the world's war on drugs. And the world's war on drugs is codified and dictated by three international drug conventions: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, and the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. These treaty documents are the foundation of world drug prohibition. They are monuments of intolerance, criminalization and incarceration and the heart of drug-war beast that incessantly stalks and haunts mankind.

Like alcohol prohibition during the Roaring '20s, the war on drugs means unending troubles with gangs, guns, violence, corruption, staggering incarceration costs, drug overdose tragedies and ever more unregulated substances. Unlike regulated pharmaceutical drugs, prohibitionist policies allow new drugs to be invented without research to determine associated risks and without recommended safety precautions that should be taken to protect consumers. This puts adults and especially children at greater risk because drug dealers don't ask for proof of age. It's not just the drugs we know about, but also all the new chemicals we know nothing about that contribute to the dangers of drug prohibition. According to reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotics Control Board to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, cartel chemists invented over 100 new synthetic drugs last year, a rate faster than authorities can add them to the list of prohibited drugs.

The war on drugs also means greater U.S. trade imbalance as foreign drugs are imported in exchange for billions of U.S. dollars; reduced public funding of needle exchange programs; 57,000 Honduran juvenile refugees seeking asylum from the violence caused by cartels in their home country; higher rates of AIDS and Hepatitis C transmission among injecting drug users; and funding for drug cartels, street gangs and terrorist organizations, each of whom recognize that prohibited drugs are one of the best sources of large profits.

On Election Day this year, citizens across America cast ballots for many state, local and federal officials. But, while these politicians can make some changes at home, most are powerless to address the global problems caused by these treaties. While ballot initiatives in Colorado, Washington, and now Alaska and Oregon have all successfully legalized marijuana; there is still a federal and international conflict in regards to changing those particular laws at the state level. Senators, however, hold significant potential for ending the global war on drugs because they have the power to ratify or reject the contents of foreign treaties negotiated by the president.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officers who fought the war on drugs and now advocate for its end, has drafted a proposed amendment of existing UN drug prohibition treaties that the Senate should be pressured to approve. This amendment would revitalize national sovereignty in regards to controlling substances, consolidate the existing treaties into a single "Convention on Drugs" and eliminate the global criminalization paradigm surrounding drugs and replace it with a health, harm-reduction and human-rights-oriented policy.

Does your Senator call for the repeal or amendment of these treaties? We must ask whether drug prohibition has yielded any positive results and demand that our politicians rely on evidence-based best practices rather than rhetoric to determine our criminal justice policies.