Richard Branson, Kofi Annan, Other World Leaders Call For Regulated, Legal Drugs

A group of business, political and human rights leaders is calling for governments worldwide to offer responsible, legal and regulated sales of drugs, instead of focusing on the failed, punitive policies of the Drug War.

The Global Commission On Drug Policy, whose members include billionaire Richard Branson, form United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, among others, released a report today that lays out reasons why drug prohibition should be ended, and how governments can offer markets for drugs such as cannabis, opiates, and cocaine, according to Transform.

"Ultimately, the drug control regime must be reformed to permit legal regulation. Let's allow and encourage countries to carefully test models of responsible legal regulation as a means to undermine the power of organized crime, which thrives on illicit drug trafficking."
The report, which can be downloaded (.pdf) here, focus on several key points, including shifting money spent on anti-drug enforcement and incarceration of drug offenders instead to education, intervention, and treatment; depriving drug cartels of their income sources by instead allowing government-regulated, and taxed, legal markets for drugs; and allowing easier access to opiate-based pain medications.

Specifically, the report calls for treating cannabis (marijuana) essentially the same as liquor; allowing its sale in tightly-regulated, licensed environments, like dispensaries or pot "coffee shops."

The commission plans to take advantage of an upcoming Special Session, scheduled for 2016, to present its findings and push for governments to take action, according to Al Jazeera America. That Special Session was originally scheduled for 2019 but was moved up on the request of the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia - three nations where the consequences of the Drug War have brought the most pain.

For example, in Colombia, U.S.-led chemical-spray attacks on farms growing coca-leaf (precursors to cocaine) and opium failed to decrease the amount of acreage used in producing drugs, and in fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, the amount of acreage devoted to producing drugs has actually increased.

In no country on Earth is the pain of the Drug War felt more bitterly than in Mexico. Since 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderon, backed by the U.S., declared War On Drugs, between 60,000 and 100,000 Mexicans have been killed, or have disappeared, as a direct result of drug violence, while the violent drug cartels have raked in some $500 million.

Do you believe it's time for governments, particularly the U.S. government, to re-think the Drug War and legalize drugs? Let us know what you think below.

[Image courtesy of: Fusion]