Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Press Release: War on Drugs - Obama and Cameron can leave a legacy of peace

News release. No Embargo. Date: 31 May 2011

Tel: 0117 325 0295 or 07970 174747

War on Drugs - Obama and Cameron can leave a legacy of peace

On Thursday 2 June the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a panel of world leaders and politicians, will host a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to launch a report that describes the drug war as a failure, and calls for a paradigm shift in global drug policy, including the decriminalisation and legal regulation of drugs.

Transform Drug Policy Foundation welcomes the report, because fifty years of global prohibition have resulted in massive levels of crime, destabilised entire nation states, created huge health harms, criminalised 250 million users, and wasted trillions of dollars.

Danny Kushlick, Head of External Affairs said: “This report is a watershed moment that puts legal regulation of drugs onto the mainstream political agenda worldwide.

“Globally we spend $100 billion a year on the war on drugs, so if we carry on as we are, over the next decade we will waste a trillion dollars increasing insecurity, damaging development and promoting crime and ill-health in some of the most disadvantaged places on earth.

“We call on UK party political leaders to call a ceasefire in their political point scoring, and instead unite to explore peaceful and effective alternatives to the war on drugs.

“The UK Government is also in the perfect position to bring the US to the table to negotiate an end to the war on drugs and a Marshall Plan to consolidate the peace. In 2002 David Cameron called for the UN to debate legal regulation, and in 2004 President Obama described the war on drugs as an “utter failure”. Cameron and Obama now have the greatest opportunity ever to use the ‘essential relationship’ to find a peaceful solution to the longest conflict of modern times. Ending the war on drugs and bringing peace to some of the most violent places in the world would be a truly great legacy.”
Danny Kushlick, Head of External Affairs (+44) 07970 174747

Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst (+44) 07980 213943

Notes for Editors:
1. For full details of the Global Commission on Drugs report and press conference see

2. Transform Drug Policy Foundation is an NGO with special consultative status at the United Nations

3. Count the Costs is a global campaign supported by 30 NGOs exposing the costs of the war on drugs:

4. David Cameron

Parliamentary debate, December 5th 2002, when David Cameron told the House of Commons, "I ask the [Labour] Government not to return to retribution and war on drugs. That has been tried, and we all know that it does not work."

As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into drug misuse in 2002, Cameron voted in favour of recommendation 24:

"24. We recommend that the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways—including the possibility of legalisation and regulation—to tackle the global drugs dilemma (paragraph 267)."

"Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades."

5. President Barack Obama

"The war on drugs has been an utter failure":
6. Supporters of Reform
For a list of political leaders, professional and faith leaders, and celebrities backing an end to the war on drugs see:


David Raynes said...

I would advise taking a cool bath you chaps at Transform. Nothing is going to happen. You get over excited regularly then later I notice, go back to the drawing board. I find your behaviour very amusing. You are tilting at windmills.

The evidence on liberalisation in places near us, where it has occurred (The Netherlands in the past & Portugal nowadays) is very much against any idea that liberalisation, even legalisation/toleration on the Dutch model, damages criminality. The reverse is the case.

For years we have been bombarded with the Netherlands as THE example of sound drug policy, this despite the fact that the country, through it's policies created the largest base for drugs related criminality in Europe with supply, warehousing, distribution and manufacture at astonishing levels.

I suggest you also look at cocaine traficking into Portugal since their decriminalisation, together with their 50% rise in prevalence of use of any illicit drug under the age of 34.

Criminality would LOVE legalisation, legalisation would increase use, increase harm & increase addiction.

A larger and nominally legal martket would just increase opportunity for crime with all the damaging social consequences which we would all pay for.

It might incidentally have been a mistake to use AVAAZ to promote this recent worldwide spat. The lady I appeared with this morning seemed to know next to nothing and was speaking on auto pilot. Not good.

Martin Powell said...

You are confusing decriminalisation of possession with legal regulation of production and supply - they are different things.

Decrimininalising possession has had major benefits in Portugal. It has reduced criminal justice costs allowing better funding of health and education measures, and reduced stigma, increasing uptake of treatment amongst other things. However it leaves the market in the hands of criminal profiteers, with all the attendant problems that brings. To remove all the problems you identify in your post we need to move to full state control of the entire supply chain. Interestingly in parts of Holland they now recognise this, and are exploring pilots to legally produce the cannabis sold in coffee shops.

If we look at the tobacco market, globally 90% is legal, with much of the remaining 10% legally produced but then smuggled because of differential levels of taxation. If legally regulating heroin and cocaine wiped out anything like 90% of the illegal market it would be the single biggest blow to organised crime ever.

Anonymous said...

David Raynes, one only has to look at the USA and the prohibition of Alcohol to prove all the points you raise to be wrong.

Martin Powell said...

David, Are you suggesting the world would be a better place if the mafia still controlled all alcohol distribution and sales in the US as well?