The drug war has been waged and the good guys have gotten their butts kicked. That’s the conclusion of a new report issued by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 19-member panel of experts, including former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz, former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and former presidents of Brazil, Columbia, and Mexico.
The Commission recommends that instead of spending billions annually to fight a losing war that nations:
- End the criminalization, particularly for the large percentage of “people who use drugs but who do no harm to others”;
- Legalize cannabis to “undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security” of those who use the drug;
- Offer health and treatment services rather than jail time for addicts;
- Provide more substantive education programs to keep individuals from using drugs in the first place.
The U.S. government responded negatively to the Commission’s recommendations.
“Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,” Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesperson for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Huffington Post.
A Gallup poll taken last year found 46 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana while 50 percent oppose it. According to a blog on the Marijuana Policy Project site: “Gallup found that support for making marijuana legal was highest among liberals (72 percent), 18- to 29-year-olds (61 percent,) and people living in the West (58 percent). Majority support also exists among Democrats, independents, men, and moderates.”
A study done in 2005 by Jeffrey Miron, an economics professor at Harvard, concluded that regulating and taxing marijuana in a similar fashion to alcohol would generate governmental savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion a year. Dr. Miron’s research was supported by 530 economists, both conservative and liberal, who called for an end to the prohibition on the drug.
- Global drug war called failure: Time to legalize marijuana? – CBS News
- Gallup: Record 46% of Americans Support Legal Marijuana – Marijuana Policy Project
- Global Commission on Drug Policy
- Drug War Has Failed And Governments Should Explore Legalizing Marijuana, Says Report – The Huffington Post
- Milton Friedman, 500+ Economists Call for Marijuana Regulation Debate; New Report Projects $10-14 Billion Annual Savings and Revenues – Marijuana Policy Project
- The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition – Marijuana Policy Project
Discussion Question: Should the U.S. government legalize marijuana and regulate it for retail sale in a similar fashion to alcohol?