Failure of Drug War Can No Longer Be Ignored (El Espectador,
“In Colombia, everything has been done to fight drug trafficking:
Fumigation, extradition, murder, war declared against the drug cartels, the passage
of laws, questionable constitutional reforms, abject persecution and public
seizures. And the result of all this selfless and exhausting struggle? Very little.”
There are two types of negative impacts related to drugs.
The first arises from their use and abuse: a heart attack suffered by a chronic
cocaine addict or the cirrhosis that takes the life of a hardened drinker. The
second occurs as a result of drug policies, and the effects are as serious as
the first: among others, these include the spread of AIDS through the repeated
use of contaminated syringes, mafias and their indiscriminate violence against
civilians, in short - due to war.
Drug policies, which are applied every day internationally (and
boy, in Colombia, including at this newspaper, where we have been victimized by
drug violence, we know all about this), are designed based on an
internationally-inspired model and inspiration: ban the production and
marketing of drugs to keep them from being consumed. Since the 1961 Convention
on Narcotic Drugs, and especially since the declaration of total war
against them by President Richard Nixon ten years later, punishment and prison has
been the predominant approach to the issue.
In Colombia, everything has been done to fight drug
trafficking: Fumigation, extradition, murder, war declared against the drug
cartels, the passage of laws, questionable constitutional reforms, abject
persecution and public seizures. Everything has been tried. And the result of all
this selfless and exhausting struggle? Very little. So
despite those tearing their hair out defending the war on drugs (based on moral
argument and sometimes the need to oppose guerrillas), everyone here and abroad
knows that it isn’t working as it should. The market continues, consumers are
supplied, dealers make a profit and business goes on. For every illicit path
that has been legally closed, an illegal bridge is built to keep the market
going - stopping progress in its tracks.
It is shocking to review the rates of drug-related incarceration
in U.S. prisons or Latin America. And when we consider the health of some
consumers - secondary damage caused by poor quality drugs distributed by
criminals due to prohibition – it is frightening, to say the least.
Posted by Worldmeets.US
So what can be done? A policy of such scope that represents
this degree of failure must somehow be reassessed. But we are not advocates of an
extremist solution that resembles a caricature: prohibition or legalization and
We believe, as attorney Rodrigo Uprimny has expressed in these pages several times, that this
is a false dilemma. There are other ways to combat the drug problem. Regulation
that tolerates (but at the same time discourages) drug use, decriminalizing use
and creating legal paths for distribution (taking into account lessons learned about
"hard drugs" and knowing more about the topic in order to look after the
health of citizens), is the proper way forward.
This weekend we celebrate the Sixth Summit of the Americas
in the city of Cartagena. Today will bring the end of the event, which brought together
the leaders of the hemisphere. One of them, Barack Obama, is president of the
country that maintains the war on drugs declared four decades ago. We know that
drug prohibition will not end after the summit. But the fact that the issue can
be talked about and discussed at a presidential level, and that Colombia (an
expert on the subject) is the country that proposed it, is a step forward. The
issue will not be ignored after this. Hopefully, future proposals and
alternatives will arise from this.
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