A new report by the U.K.’s “national centre of expertise on drugs and drug laws” says that drug decriminalization does not lead to an increase of drug use. In an article at Huffington Post, Columbia University epidemiologist Ernest Drucker argues that like alcohol prohibition, the “war on drugs” is doomed to fail and that prohibition measures like arrest and incarceration are forms of societal violence themselves.
The report, A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe, “looks at over 20 countries that have adopted some form of decriminalisation of drug possession, including some States that have only decriminalised cannabis possession.” The studies’ objective was to examine all existing research and attempt to establish whether communities that adopted decriminalization policies saw that the decision resulted in an uptick in drug use.
“The simple answer,” said the report, “is that it did not.”
After examining the 21 countries and their “decriminalization profiles,” including the U.S., Mexico, Australia, the Netherlands, Estonia and more, the global study concluded that “many countries adopt models that are ineffective, unworkable, or in some cases which result in greater harms for those who use drugs and for society more broadly,” but that ultimately a country’s policies concerning drug legalization and enforcement have “little correlation with levels of drug use and misuse in that country.”
In other words, whether or not drugs are legal or illegal doesn’t affect rates of use one way or the other. Also, given the steep increase in recent years of drug overdoses and deaths from legally prescribed drugs, Drucker and the study’s authors urgently beseech governments to re-examine their standing on decriminalization and base their drug policies on science rather than ideology.
“It’s time for the United States to shake its obsession with drug prohibition,” Drucker wrote, “and join the successful global movement” toward decriminalization, which is embracing “smart and well tested medical and social policies” to find a better answer.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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