Spent the day in Geneva with the Global Commission on Drug Policy discussing ways to provoke a paradigm shift in the global drug debate.

Global Commission on Drug Policy in Geneva

The international drug control system has now existed for more than 100 years, since the International Opium Convention was signed in 1912 in The Hague.

 

The war on drugs has been a complete failure for a long, long time. However, many still believe drug policy is not there to improve the health of mankind, but to enforce draconian old laws.

 

However, this is starting to change. 

Wherever you look around the world, there are breakthroughs being made in changing the way governments and people think about drug policy. Entrenched positions are moving and drug addiction is starting to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. Today we discussed obstacles and opportunities in America, Africa, The Caribbean, Europe and elsewhere. 

Latin America is a long way ahead. A few years ago, Latin American leaders decided to bring the drugs debate to the highest level. When they started talking about drugs openly, sharing evidence, everything changed. This needs to happen in the rest of the world too. Everyone should debate drug policy, we don't have to exclude anyone. Online and on the streets across the globe, everyone else is already debating it, whether governments like it or not. It's time politicians debate drugs seriously too - they debate everything else!

One of the major problems when debating drug policy is the way it is talked about: the word 'drugs'  strikes fear into some people and can stop intelligent debate. The real issues are often lost in a sea of legislation and fancy words, adding another layer of bureaucracy for anyone interested in drug policy - which is something that affects us all - to overcome.

 

We all need to talk about drugs. Even if everyone doesn't agree, having the discussion is very important. 

Geneva Swiss flag
Global Commission on Drug Policy in Geneva

In 2016 there will be a UN General Assembly Special Session on drug policy, which we are hopeful will result in real change. The dream outcome is establishing an international framework allowing countries to pursue policies that treat drugs as a health issue, not a criminal issue.

In the same way as we can't see a world without alcohol or tobacco, there will never be a world without drugs. 

Rather than putting up with damaging policies that can never be successfully enforced, people's health and safety needs to come first.

The need to be bold is key. We are fortunate in the Global Commission on Drug Policy that we don't need to, and will not, pull any punches. You can read the Commission's reports on the negative impact of the war on drugs on public health, on HIV/AIDS and on why we should treat drug users, not lock them up. We are working on another evidence-based report right now. We are also holding a screening of Breaking The Taboo followed by a discussion on the war on drugs tonight in Geneva, to keep the debate going.

Watch the documentary, read the evidence, join the debate, and make up your own mind. 

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