By Ishaan Tharoor, TIME
The global war against drugs is fought seemingly every day in the jungles of Colombia and the mountains of the Hindu Kush, the inner cities of the U.S. and the trafficking corridors of Central America. But, according to a new report, it's an abject disaster.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy, an organization launched by former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico (and whose accomplished 19-member board includes former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Pakistani feminist activist Asma Jehangir, and, yes, Sir Richard Branson), declared today that the "global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world."
Four decades ago, policy makers imagined creating a drug free world through "harsh law enforcement action" that cracked down on drug production and distribution. But the resulting "vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers" have only led to an expansion of the trade, higher rates of drug consumption, and has created — as seen in places like Mexico or Afghanistan — deadly, volatile new arenas for an illicit industry to sow mayhem.
The report outlines some of the unintended consequences of a near half century of global anti-drug policies. A few: