War On Drugs: Good or Bad?

Shawn Estabilio, Journalist

According to a report made by 5 Nobel peace prize winners, the decades long war on drugs has failed and it’s time to shift focus from mass incarceration to public health and human rights.

The report was put together by the London School of Economics’ IDEAS center and is promptly titled “Ending the Drug Wars.” The report looks at the high costs and unintended consequences of drug prohibitions on public health and safety, national security, and law enforcement.

“The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global ‘war on drugs’ strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage,” says the 82-page report. “These include mass incarceration in the US, highly repressive policies in Asia, vast corruption and political destabilization in Afghanistan and West Africa, immense violence in Latin America, an HIV epidemic in Russia, an acute global shortage of pain medication and the propagation of systematic human rights abuses around the world.”

The report also urges nations to restructure their drug policies around treatment and harm reduction instead of prosecution and prison. In addition, the report is also aimed at the United Nations General Assembly, which is preparing to convene a special session on drug policy in 2016. The hope is to get the U.N. to encourage countries to form their own drug policies, because the report states that the current one-size-fits-all policy isn’t effective.

“The UN must recognize its role is to assist states as they pursue best-practice policies based on scientific evidence, not undermine or counteract them,” said Danny Quah, a professor of economics at LSE and a contributor to the report. “If this alignment occurs, a new and effective international regime can emerge that effectively tackles the global drug problem.”