One of the most striking speeches to the 2012 Commission on Narcotic Drugs came from the US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, who clearly stated that US and global drug policy needed to change – in particular to end its reliance on harsh punishment and deterrence, and focus on improving prevention and treatment programmes. Read more

While many domestic commentators in the US doubt the level of real reform emanating from The White House behind the rhetoric, there is no doubt that this change of emphasis should be welcomed internationally – it allows the US and the European Union to sing much more closely from the same hymn sheet, and will hopefully end the damaging process where many countries try to increase the 'toughness' of their policies in order to comply with US pressure.

It will be important that the thousands of representatives of the US government around the world change their own priorities and messages in their dealings with other governments and NGOs – any dissonance with the new official US policy could usefully be fed back to Mr Kerlikowske's office.

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