This is the second report from LEAP board members present at the 56th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs this week.
March 15, 2013
According to reports issued by the Secretariat for the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, methamphetamines represented the largest increase in illicit drug use worldwide in 2012 as reflected in part by the seizure of 60 tons of meth that year. Those same reports reflected that forty nine new psychoactive substances were identified and in use among European Union member states in 2011, compared with forty one new substances in 2010 and twenty four in 2009.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is charged with responsibility for establishing drug policy for the United Nations, consistent with three UN prohibitionist treaties adopted in 1961, 1971 and 1988. In March of each year, the Commission has the opportunity to study the Secretariat's reports and other evidence of drug use and trafficking, examine the effectiveness of its policies, and recommend revisions and changes to world drug policy. Given that responsibility and authority -- and given the Secretariat's facts regarding the explosion of meth use, meth seizures and new synthetic-drug proliferation -- a serious reexamination of the UN drug prohibition policy was warranted.
But it didn't happen. Concluding a week of meetings of the 56th session of the CND on Friday, the three UN drug prohibition treaties escaped alive and well without any significant policy change recommendations.
One reform group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a non-profit organization composed of drug cops, prosecutors, judges and other law enforcement personnel, who for years led the fight against drugs but who now oppose the failed drug war, expressed disappointment that the CND never engaged in a discussion of fundamental questions concerning world drug policy.
The CND failed to take up the question of whether drug prohibition does more harm than good. Despite the huge meth seizures and proliferation of new drugs in the market, the CND failed to take up the question of whether drug prohibition policy itself causes increased drug availability, potency, use, abuse, addiction, disease and death.
Ignoring other fundamental questions, the CND failed to consider whether drug prohibition policy itself causes addict crime and turf-war crime, violence, corruption and injustice; and whether it erodes freedom, liberty and human rights.
The CND failed to consider the fundamental question of whether the United Nations should repudiate the UN/Al Capone style drug-prohibition paradigm, instead adhering to the failed and harmful drug-war policy.
Triggered by unrelenting violence and other threats to the public health and safety of their people, some Latin American countries, such as Guatemala and Uruguay, are increasingly unwilling to accept the drug-prohibition status quo. Signs of change are also evident in the United States, where the people of Colorado and Washington have expressed unwillingness to live with nonsensical cannabis laws that feed Mexican drug cartels and deprive citizens of freedom.
In some European countries sentiment is also being expressed for a rejection of the top-down UN-mandated prohibition of drugs and for the restoration of national sovereignity that would enable each country to establish drug laws that best fit their people's problems and needs through a system of legalization, regulation and control.
Courageously, Bolivia, by insisting on the constitutional right of its people to preserve the traditional use of the coca leaf, has shown the nations of the world a way to throw off the straight-jacket, zero-tolerance UN prohibitionist conventions.
Following Bolivia's procedural success, other nations of the world could also reject the current prohibition policy and replace it with drug policies that are conducive to the public health, safety and welfare, through a system of legalization, regulation and control.
- Jim Gierach, Annie Machon, Terry Nelson, Maria Lucia Karam