Latin American Commission: U.S. Drug War a Failure

A new report by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy blasts the war on drugs as a failure.
[The report] is the latest to question the U.S.'s emphasis on punitive measures to deal with illegal drug use and the criminal violence that accompanies it. A recent Brookings Institution study concluded that despite interdiction and eradication efforts, the world's governments haven't been able to significantly decrease the supply of drugs, while punitive methods haven't succeeded in lowering drug use.
Among the suggestions:
The panel recommends that governments consider measures including decriminalizing the use of marijuana.


The panel was headed by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardo and also included former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and César Gaviria of Colombia.

The report warned that the U.S.-style antidrug strategy was putting the region's fragile democratic institutions at risk and corrupting "judicial systems, governments, the political system and especially the police forces."

Is the U.S. likely to listen? Not likely:

"If the drug effort were failing there would be no violence," a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. There is violence "because these guys are flailing. We're taking these guys out. The worst thing you could do is stop now."
The report counters that focusing on the country of drug origin (as opposed to where they end up) has had little effect.
In Colombia, billions of dollars in U.S. aid have helped the military regain control from the hands of drug-financed communist guerrillas and lower crime, but the help hasn't dented the amount of drugs flowing from Colombia.

As the report notes, Europe has a better solution:

Mr. Gaviria said the U.S. approach to narcotics -- based on treating drug consumption as a crime -- had failed. Latin America, he said, should adapt a more European approach, based on treating drug addiction as a health problem.
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    Drug war failure (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by SoCalDem on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:22:42 AM EST
    It seems to me that anytime the U.S. has a "War" on something be it poverty or drugs, they cause more turmoil then relief. The drug wars are the biggest sham. During the Vietnam war, more drugs were brought home by the military than any outside agent. We had an influx of China White, many people overdosed, due to the pureness. Now with the war in Afganistan, more smack on our streets. Maybe Euros have the right idea.

    The statement of the "US official" (none / 0) (#2)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:25:13 AM EST
    makes  no sense at all. Black markets are always more violent.

    Suppose marijuana use is decriminalized: how many people would that remove from the prison system?

    I know a person who was part of the war on drugs (none / 0) (#3)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:30:28 AM EST
    he went to south America during the Reagan years and the stories he has told me are scary to say the least.
    I am not one of those who favors legalizing drugs (other than decriminalizing Pot), I don't think addicts will suddenly become model citizens because the government will allow them to have their daily dose of Methadone.
    On the other hand it would be nice if there were ONE single appointment by Obama that matched his campaign rhetoric.

    The reasons for legalizing (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Pete Guither on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:45:06 PM EST
    The reasons for legalizing have nothing to do with assuming that addicts will become model citizens.

    The reasons for legalizing are about taking the drugs out of the black market where they are obscenely profitable.  The current system produces gang violence and even the destabilization of entire countries, plus corruption of law enforcement, explosion of prison populations, enormous taxpayer cost, breaking up of families, destruction of inner cities, racial disparities, and much more.  And it doesn't do anything to help reduce the number of addicts.

    Legalization has nothing to do with making drugs available.  They're available now.  Legalization is about ending the damage of the drug war.


    Not To Mention (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by squeaky on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:58:40 PM EST
    Moving drug addiction/abuse into a medical framework where it belongs as opposed to a prison framework.

    LO freaking L (none / 0) (#11)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 06:51:53 PM EST
    medical care doesn't cure addiction!  Half of heroin addicts will die of overdoses and nothing medical care has to offer will change that.

    Like I said (none / 0) (#10)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 06:50:10 PM EST
    they will NOT be satisfied with what the government will dole out to them and there will always be a black market.  
    Drugs break up families and they destroy lives.  Making them legal will only give more people permission to get hooked and prison is often the only and last resort to convince someone to stop.

    no, see that is the problem (none / 0) (#13)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 01:11:11 PM EST
    legalizing drugs will NOT take them off the black market because the amount of opiate etc... the government allows someone to take will NEVER be enough for an addict.  In addition they will still ruin the lives of everyone around them, just like alcoholics do.  And sometimes the threat of jail and the fact that it is illegal is exactly the thing that keeps people from abusing these drugs.
    Legalize drugs and we will have a much bigger problem than we already have.

    Hasn't it been decriminalized!! (none / 0) (#6)
    by SoCalDem on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:55:43 PM EST
    I was under the impression that Marijuana was already decriminalized. Or is that just in California? You used to get arrested for having even a roach and sent to jail, then it went to a ticket. Now we have pot shops all over the place.
    Personally I'm not against them being, I am a little pissed at the prices.

    Chained to a bench.... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 05:14:11 PM EST
    for a roach in NY man...don't be b*tchin' about no prices:)

    state by state (none / 0) (#7)
    by CST on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 04:19:59 PM EST
    some states have decriminalized possesion of "small" amounts (definition changes by state).  I don't believe anyone has decriminalized the sale/distribution.  And in S. Carolina you can still go to jail for 30 days for possesion of small amounts.

    The Gub'mint is flat busted broke (none / 0) (#9)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 07:33:37 AM EST
    When alcohol Prohibition was in full swing, there were plenty of studies out detailing what a failure it was, but because of the efforts of a small, vocal minority comprised of temperance society types, crooked cops and lawyers and judges, etc., it was maintained...until the Great Depression came along, and threw things into proper perspective. Alcohol Prohibition was 'retired' in short order when it became obvious the nation couldn't fiscally afford it and needed the tax revenue from alcohol sales.

    Well, I believe that things run in cycles, and we're in the midst of our own, maybe Greater Depression, and guess what?

    Take a look around. We can't afford to waste any more money chasing down and locking up pot-heads...an activity that takes up about 80-90% of DrugWar efforts.

    When people are out of work, and more and more are joining their ranks, they are in desperate need of money that could be used to mend the social safety net. But they don't have it. Why?  Because it's been pee'd away in the DrugWar.

    Those who are in that situation are not going to want to hear some fat-cat bureaucrat intoning that that money is needed to 'save the children from drugs', when saving them from homelessness and malnutrition should be the priority. A point that will become more and more evident as things get tighter.

    And woe to any pols, bureaucrats, cops, judges, prosecutors, prison builders, etc. who forgets that. Americans are inordinately patient with errant nonsense (or worse) from their government, but when it comes to survival issues, as so many are facing and many more will face, that patience will vanish in a flash and something very ugly might take it's place. Something that involves trees and 'Nebraska neckties', as no place is more than three missed meals way from a revolution, and we might be heading in that direction if things get any worse.

    hmmmm (none / 0) (#14)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 01:14:10 PM EST
    I would agree that saving them from homelessness is a bigger priority.  But did you ever think about how much homelessness is caused by drug addiction?

    drug war failure (none / 0) (#12)
    by dancingnancie3 on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 06:11:36 PM EST
    I found this video today... it shows what different news sources are saying about the issue. It's interesting to see all the different perspectives: