Friday, March 30, 2012

Red Cross Calls for Drug Decriminalization

In a little-noticed statement to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said that drug use should not be a crime.

Here are some key excerpts:
We often ignore the evidence that to be successful in our drug policies, health services must provide a comprehensive package known as harm reduction programmes that combine the measures we have previously mentioned.
Instead, the best people who use drugs can hope for is to be driven underground to live with the addiction in the dark back streets and abandoned buildings of our towns and cities. Or even worse, they are criminalized and jailed with little or no regard for their healthcare rights or the impact of this policy on the health of their communities.

Treating drug addicts as criminals, is destined to fuel the rise of HIV and other infections not only among those unfortunate enough to have a serious drug addiction, but also for children born into addicted families and ordinary members of the public who are not normally exposed to HIV risks. Injecting drug use is a health issue. It is an issue of human rights. It cannot be condoned, but neither should it be criminalized.

To conclude, the IFRC, on behalf of the most vulnerable people affected by drug use, strongly calls upon key stakeholders and donors to exert all possible efforts to gather knowledge on the scale of the drug use epidemic at country level and decide on the proper response accordingly.
Criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization are not such responses. Laws and prosecutions do not stop people from taking drugs.


  1. This is very good news! Let's hope it's more than a passing bullet point on the road of time and their whole organizations realize that each passing minute of Prohibition more people are needlessly dying, becoming infected, spreading infection, languishing in prison unrighteously, and harmfully mixing the very sick with those who are not sick -- only called sick -- because the real sickos called them sick.

  2. This is a step in the right direction execpt for the fact that the first sentence indicates that this was a" little noticed statement" and the fact of the matter is that this should be front page news sickens me that upper echelon government is either so intertwined with the current drug policy situation (meaning they rely on money that is profited from the war on drugs, I.e. dea, law enforcement, jails ,probation, pharmaceuticals, shady drug importation, etc...) or they are too embarrassed to admit they have been wrong for 30+ years the way they handled drugs and drug addiction.....I feel that it's so easy to see that the main issue of concern with the 'war on drugs" ability to succeed, is that the war focuses on taking out the dealers from the kingpins up top, with the thinking that with no drug dealers, the addicts will have no place to buy drugs,therefore no more drug addiction or abuse...the problem with that kind of thinking is that over the years we can easily see that for every kingpin we take out, that there are infinite amounts fighting to take their place....what we need to do is to combat the drug epidemic from the bottom, aka the addict....and the easiest, logical way, would be to legalize drugs and use the wasted money fighting the losing battle and funnel it into rehabilitation programs and a serious education for our kids.....also with the legalization of drugs, we get the added bonus of the instant breakdown of the majority of gangs since they would be losing there bread and butter, and id go as far to say that terrorism would probably take a pretty big hit as well ......

    1. I think you are right with your “bottom up” assessment. But the fact is that since the early 1900’s the (il)logic has been the fallacy that taking away opiates will somehow cure those who feel addicted. (Search for Consumer Union Report, Licit and Illicit Drugs.)

      Of course the Boston (Watch and Ward Society) Globe ignored this significant news item. They continue with the moronic Drug War mentality.

  3. A good step forward, but decriminalization of possession will do little or nothing to change the black market price that users pay, and the profits of the cartels, and the negative consequences of these prohibition created realities. Only some form of regulated legal distribution can do that. IFRC could help this process along by studying alcohol vs. cannabis and concluding that public health will be served by having cannabis available as an alternative to alcohol. Less violence, less disease when people can choose marijuana as well as alcohol.

    1. Even better IMHO would be for them and other major medical associations to finally come out and say the health benefits of cannabis are so numerous it should be decriminalized IMMEDIATELY with the goal of re-leglizing it by the end of the month. Then to constantly remind their doctors, employees, and the public to hound our cowardly (or beholden-to-lies) politicians to repeal our prohibition laws.

      I’m reminded of a line I heard in the new FRONTLINE show: The Real CSI. Basically they said it’s the District Attorneys and cops who claim they need more “tools” to catch the bad guys. But as was pointed out, the “tools” they use are not based in science but subjectivity, the only reliable forensic tool was DNA evidence, and that was developed by scientists.

      In the same way I’ve heard Prohibitionists cops decry ending the EVIL Religion of Hate (Prohibition) because they claim it will remove a “tool” from their “toolbox” which they use to catch bad guys. Their logic is fatally flawed. In fact the logical conclusion is what we are living now, making nearly everything a crime and inserting the words “security” and “safety” in front of everything so that no matter what one does, one is a criminal, and giving them powers to engage in constant spying, snooping, and searching.

      Someone within the IFRC needs to do some math on how much blood they are not collecting because
      1) drug users are afraid they will be found out,
      2) people have contracted a blood borne disease and thus can no longer donate

      They also need to calculate how much blood is used to help people who have been harmed by prohibition.

    2. I have to disagree with your claim stating the Black Market will still thrive. Mainly because, if Cannabis is decriminalized people have free access to it without the worry of being thrown in prison for it. Think about it, why would someone want to spend their money buying a gram from some guy they met, ranging from $10-20 and only getting that small amount. OR, they could simply purchase AND cultivate their own plants and wouldn't have to leave their house to get it. Hence, crime would decrease significantly because their wouldn't be any need to smuggle it or the constant worry of being busted by police.
      Legalization is probably one of the last resorts regarding cannabis use. The government should not have ANY control over it whatsoever, look at tobacco prices, they're increasing in price because vast amounts of people are spending money on it and the government is just sitting back raising the taxes and laughing as their wallets gets bigger. If legalization and regulation occurs the prices will be so outrageous that the Black Market would continue to thrive and flourish. I whole heartedly believe that if cannabis use was decriminalized crime would occur less and less. And the government could stop wasting their time and taxpayer money to continue this "war on drugs". Drug use should be handled as a medical problem. And if the gas prices continue to rise in price, hemp is a very useful bio-diesel fuel. Natural cannabis and hemp has evolved so much that it can be grown almost anywhere, we wouldn't have to worry about shortages.

  4. Here are the contact pages so people can write them to thank them and to ask them to be more outspoken or involved:

    Red Cross
    Red Crescent (apparently must create an account first)


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