The argument over treatment is being won. Now for the battle over supply
Jun 2nd 2011 | MEXICO CITY
NARCOTICS liberalisation was once the cause of freethinkers and hippies. Now a more sober bunch is criticising the “war on drugs”. On June 2nd the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group including ex-presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland; the prime minister of Greece; a former secretary-general of the United Nations; and, from America, an ex-secretary of state and ex-chairman of the Federal Reserve, called for the decriminalisation of all drug taking, and for experiments in the legal regulation of the sale of drugs, starting with cannabis.
Calls for a rethink of the 50-year-old policy of prohibition have been growing. As the report pointed out, drug consumption has continued to rise, even as billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives have been spent trying to stamp it out. In the ten years to 2008, the most recent data available, the number taking cannabis worldwide increased by 8.5%, of cocaine by 27%, and of opiates by 34.5%. America’s federal government alone spent $15 billion in 2010 on drug control; perhaps $25 billion more went in other public spending.