The war on drugs has been a disaster

As unpalatable as the idea might be to some, for most experts on the issue, there really is no alternative. “Virtually everyone now agrees that the war on drugs has been a spectacular failure by almost every measure,” Ilona Szabó de Carvalho of the Igarapé Institute argued on this blog last year.

By legalizing but strictly regulating both the supply and consumption of drugs – as many countries and some US states have started to do with marijuana – governments can take back control from the gangs and drug traffickers.

The money generated through taxes and saved on law enforcement could then be ploughed back into policies that might be more successful: education programmes to teach people of the dangers of drug abuse, as well as treatment centres for addicts. These treatment centres, often referred to as rehab, offer comprehensive care for those who need it for as long as they need it. Patients will have the option of being an inpatient (staying in the centre whilst treatment is ongoing) or an outpatient (https://enterhealth.com/outpatient-ocoe/). The centres usually offer therapy, counselling, medication and holistic treatments as part of their care. This is the sort of thing our money should be going to.

Sometimes, when you get something wrong, it’s easier to keep doing it than to admit you made a mistake. But as Kofi Annan pointed out two years ago in Davos, the time now is for bold decisions.

“We need to look at the policy and ask ourselves simply, sincerely and honestly: is it working? And if it’s not, we must have the courage to change it.”