26 August 2011

Time to talk about UN drug conventions reform .

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Financial Times today. 


The profit margins for illicit drugs are such that it is simply an irresistible product, and because it is illegal the business model includes violent death as a standard option. Latin America has the misfortune to be politically weak and close to the world’s biggest consumer market for drugs, the US. In Europe, in spite of the usual warlike rhetoric from some politicians, authorities are increasingly  and quite sensibly  decriminalising the use, possession and even small-scale cultivation of cannabis. They have little choice, since more than 22 per cent of the population have now become sometime users and have effectively opted out of an unenforceable law.

There is more emphasis on prevention and treatment in Europe than on suppression. European Union member states and institutions have spent the last 15 years keeping the lid on this issue, at least at home, but as you say in your article “A toxic trade” (Analysis, August 24), we’re catching up. One reason for this is that too many EU governments (and the US of course) are still loath to support the rising chorus of experts  and now the Global Commission on Drug Policy  calling for an end to the taboo of even discussing a reform of the UN conventions on drugs, which are the legal corner that the world has painted itself into on this issue. The conventions were written in another age (starting in 1961) and are doing more harm than good. It is to be hoped that at least some politicians may rediscover the art of explaining such an uncomfortable truth to their electorates.

Carel Edwards, 
Brussels, Belgium 
Head of the European Commission’s Drug Policy Unit 2003-10


16:05 Posted by Carel Edwards in Blog, Drugs and politics | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook

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