The Global Commission on Drug Policy recently issued a report concluding that “[t]he global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.” It points out that fifty years of international drug prohibition policies have had little impact on drug consumption (which continued to rise), but has caused enormous harm. The report urges governments to “[e]nd the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.”
Many of the points in the report are not new; to a large extent, it summarizes previously available data and academic research. Its main significance arises from the high status and ideological diversity of the Commission members. They include a variety of prominent policy makers and public figures, including Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. On the political right, we have former Reagan Administration Secretary of State George Shultz, Paul Volcker, and Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa, a prominent libertarian and former Peruvian presidential candidate. The Global Commission Report comes just a few weeks after a high-profile British panel (which also included prominent conservatives) reached a similar conclusion.