NYTimes | The war on drugs is essentially a war on people. But old habits die hard. Many countries are still addicted to waging this war. As Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos, said, “We are still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years.” Fortunately, more and more governments also concede that a new approach is needed, one that strips out the profits that accompany drug sales while ensuring the basic human rights and public health of all citizens.
If we are going to get drugs under control, we need to have an honest conversation. The Global Commission on Drug Policy — of which I am a founding member — has supported an open, evidence-based debate on drugs since 2011. We strongly support reducing drug supply and demand, but differ fundamentally with hard-liners about how this should be achieved. We are not soft on drugs. Far from it.
What do we propose? Well, for one, we do not believe that military hardware, repressive policing and bigger prisons are the answer. Real reductions in drug supply and demand will come through improving public health and safety, strengthening anticorruption measures — especially those that combat money laundering — and investing in sustainable development. We also believe that the smartest pathway to tackling drugs is decriminalizing consumption and ensuring that governments regulate certain drugs, including for medical and recreational purposes.