Ryan Grim, Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, moderated a discussion between members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy who have made it their mission to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and society. The prominent group, consisting of former presidents and other distinguished leaders from around the world, gathered to urge for a global overhaul to the drug policies and regulations.
“We are driven by a sense of urgency,” said Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. “There is a widespread acknowledgment that the current system is not working, but also recognition that change is both necessary and achievable. ”
In “Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies That Work,” a report released just this month, the organization emphatically advocates for all governments to embrace decriminalization for consuming drugs and instead shift their efforts towards targeting drug trafficking and organized crime. They provided a series of recommendations in their executive summary imploring leaders around the world to prioritize health and public safety, put an end to incarceration for non-violent, low-level participants and allow certain psychoactive substances including cannabis to be legally regulated.
Portugal, a country where drugs have been decriminalized since 1991, was cited as an example during the discussion of how a system like the one recommended by the Global Commission on Drug Policy could be successful.
“We have experiences in Portugal since 1991, where they have decriminalized the use of drugs. Users get treatment assistance but are not put in jail. It has been very effective in Portugal; the results are quite clear,” Cardosa said.
Whether or not the world will continue seeing major shifts in drug regulations and policies is unclear, but the Global Commission on Drug Policy is determined to create awareness about the positive benefits of moving away from enforcement-based laws and focusing more on human rights and harm reduction principles.
Cannabis prohibition has been a major topic around the world, especially with all the rapid changes in legislation in the U.S. and beyond. The same buzzwords pop up over and over again: Colorado, recreational, Washington state, medical, New York, Uruguay. These major milestones in cannabis history are just the tip of the iceberg in relation to what could be bubbling on a larger scale.
Do you think there needs to be a global overhaul to drug policies? What do you think needs to change? Share your thoughts with us.