'War on drugs' failed and policies need major overhaul – Report

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'War on drugs' failed and policies need major overhaul – Report

7 December 2023
IPS News

BRATISLAVA, Dec 5 2023 (IPS) - A major advocacy group has demanded an overhaul of global drug policies as a landmark report is released showing how governments’ complacency has perpetuated a failed ‘war on drugs’ despite its devastating consequences for millions of people around the world.

Using wide-ranging data from UN, government, academic, and civil society sources, ‘Off track: Shadow Report for the mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration on Drugs’ released today (December 5) by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) illustrates the collapse of the UN drug control regime, its authors say.

It shows how, despite billions spent every year to curb drug markets and availability, in the last four years, the number of people who use drugs has risen to historic levels, overdose deaths are surging, executions for drug offences have soared, and millions have continued to be imprisoned for drug offences. And this is all while access to treatment for drug dependency remains low and shockingly unequal in different parts of the world.

But at the same time, the group claims, the long-held consensus behind global prohibition is fracturing, and since 2019, the number of people who can legally access internationally controlled drugs for non-medical use has more than doubled to over 294 million.

“There has often been an attitude [at policy level] that drugs are wrong and that the approach to drug use should be a punitive one. But recently there has been a growing recognition, on the ground and at grassroots level but also at some policymaking level, that this approach is not working. That recognition is accelerating as we reach a breaking point on this,” Marie Nougier, Head of Research and Communications at IDPC and one of the main authors of the report, told IPS.


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