IMPROVING DRUGS POLICY IS ONE OF THE KEY POLICY CHALLEGES OF OUR TIME.
It is time to fundamentally review global strategies in response to the drug phenomenon. That is why the Global Commission on Drug Policy, led by former Presidents, and other thought leaders are in support of this campaign.
Our proposal as the Guatemalan government is to abandon any ideological consideration regarding drug policy (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach to drug regulation.
Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that drug consumption and production should be legalised, but within certain limits and conditions.
Jimmy Carter, former president of United States
In 1977, I said the country (US) should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society.
These ideas were widely accepted at the time. Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.
Fernando H. Cardoso, former president of Brazil
The war on drugs is a lost war, and now is the time to move away from a punitive approach in order to pursue a new set of policies based on public health, human rights, and common sense. The illicit drug trade will continue as long as there is demand for drugs.
Instead of sticking to failed policies that do not reduce the profitability of the drug trade – and thus its power – we must redirect our efforts to the harm caused by drugs to people and societies, and to reducing consumption.
Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico
Every idea has its time. When I was in government, things were not as bad as they are now. There is a growing cost in not resolving this problem, in not finding a form of truce, a way to avoid the brutal violence that is hurting Mexico.
The cost is growing exponentially... I see important businessmen leaving and going elsewhere. We are losing in many things: tourism is stagnant, trade on the border, nightclubs, hotels are all stuck. We don't deserve to pay this price.
Lech Wałęsa, former president of Poland
Fighting the war on drugs costs the world’s taxpayers incalculable billions each year. Millions of people are in prison worldwide for drug-related offences, mostly personal users and small-time dealers.
Corruption amongst law-enforcers and politicians, especially in producer and transit countries, has spread as never before, endangering democracy and civil society.
Alexander Kwasniewski, former president of Poland
East European leaders should press for a halt to incarcerating people for possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use and should start treating drug addiction as a public health issue. Taking more effective action to end the H.I.V. epidemic driven by the abuse of injected drugs is vital.
The spread of H.I.V. among people who inject drugs in Russia and Ukraine is a grave concern even beyond their borders, and it is also my responsibility to advocate for these much-needed policy shifts.
César Gaviria, former president of Columbia
The US “War on Drugs” is a failure. Society does not want to accept that people consume. You cannot turn away from reality. They may prefer not to talk about it. We cannot accept that. We cannot be condemned to live in war because Americans do not want to talk about it.
No one now speaks in favor of the war on drugs. The presidents of Colombia and Guatemala have raising the issue of legalization, legitimises the debate.
Ruth Dreifuss, former president of Switzerland
Overwhelming evidence from Europe, Canada and Australia now demonstrates the human and social benefits both of treating drug addiction as a health rather than criminal justice problem and of reducing reliance on prohibitionist policies.
These policies need to be adopted worldwide, with requisite changes to the international drug control conventions.
Noam Chomsky, Nobel Prize laureate
The fear of drugs and the fear of crime is very much stimulated by state and business propaganda. The National Justice Commission repeatedly points out that crime in the United States, while sort of high, is not off the spectrum for industrialized societies. On the other hand, fear of crime is far beyond other societies, and mostly stimulated by various propaganda. The Drug War is an effort to stimulate fear of dangerous people from who we have to protect ourselves.
Morgan Freeman, Actor
On Marijuana Laws: "Marijuana! Heavens, oh yeah. It’s just the stupidest law possible, given history. You don’t stop people from doing what they want to do, so forget about making it unlawful. You’re just making criminals out of people who aren’t engaged in criminal activity. And we’re spending zillions of dollars trying to fight a war we can’t win! We could make zillions, just legalize it and tax it like we do liquor. It’s stupid."
Richard Branson, Entrepreneur
"…and we just spent two years looking at the war on drugs and it is obvious it failed. Thousands of people in South America are killed every year, more and more people are sent to prison and the amount of people using drugs increases year over year."
Carlos Fuentes, novelist and Essayist
"The Mexican drug war is a confrontation. Sometimes we win, sometimes they win. But there are 50,000 killed and the relatives of those people don’t care who is winning.
"We are in a very serious political situation and I hope, in the passage of time, Mexico will develop a policy to solve the problems."
Sean Parker, founding president of Facebook and director of Spotify
Sean Parker, cofounder of Napster and the first chairman of Facebook, has signed the Beckley Foundation’s public letter calling for an end to the War on Drugs and a new approach to drug policy.
George P. Schultz, former US Secretary of State
"you've got to be worried about what's happening to Mexico, and you've got to realize that the money that's financing all that comes from the United States in terms of the profits from the illegal drugs. It's not healthy for us, let alone Mexico, to have this violence taking place."
Juan Manuel Santos, President of Columbia
"The world needs to discuss new approaches… we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years.
"A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalising, and the world thinks that's the solution, I will welcome it. I'm not against it.
"We have gone through a tremendous experience – dramatic and costly for a society to live through. We have lost our best judges, our best politicians, our best journalists, our best policemen in this fight against drugs and the problem's still there."
Sting, musician and actor
"For years, the Drug War has been used as a pretext to lock people in prison for exorbitant lengths of time…Civil liberties have been trampled. Law enforcement has been militarized. Literally hundreds of billions of dollars -- dollars denied to urgent problems ranging from poverty to pollution -- have been spent. People who do need help with drugs have been treated as criminals instead. Meanwhile, resources to fight genuine crime -- violent crime -- have been significantly diminished. And in exchange for all this, the War on Drugs has not stopped people from using drugs or kept drugs from crossing the borders or being sold on the streets."
Gael García Bernal, Actor and Director
"Drugs are illegal—therefore, there's a fight… I hope drugs become legalized in Mexico. If drugs were legal, there would be nothing to fight about."
Professor David Nutt, former Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and Endmond J. Safra Chair of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London.
"I strongly believe that we should focus on public health approaches to the drug problem, and decriminalise the possession of drugs for personal use, for the following simple reason;- If users are addicted then they are ill, and criminal sanctions are an inappropriate way to deal with an illness. If they are not addicted then criminalisation will almost always lead to greater harms to the user than the effects of the drug."
Bob Ainsworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
"Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit.
"Billions of pounds have been spent without preventing the wide availability of drugs.
"It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children.
"We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists."
Yoko Ono, Musician and Artist
Rock legend, Yoko Ono has signed the Beckley Foundation’s public letter calling for an end to the War on Drugs and a new approach to drug policy
Bernardo Bertolucci, Film Director
Bernardo Bertolucci, film director, has signed the Beckley Foundation’s public letter calling for an end to the War on Drugs and a new approach to drug policy
Gilberto Gil, Musician and former Brazillian Minister of Culture
"Drugs should be treated like pharmaceuticals, legalised, although under the same regulations and monitoring as medicines."
Maria Cattaui, former Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce
Fomer Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce Maria Cattaui has signed the Beckley Foundation’s public letter calling for an end to the War on Drugs and a new approach to drug policy
Professor AC Grayling, Master, New College of the Humanities
"Almost everyone who wishes to try drugs, does so; almost everyone who wishes to make use of drugs does it irrespective of their legal status.
"Opponents say legalisation will lead to unrestrained use and abuse. Yet the evidence is that where laws have been relaxed there is little variation in frequency or kind of use.
If drugs were legally and safely available through chemist shops, and if their use
was governed by the same provisions as govern alcohol purchase and consumption, the main platform for organised crime would be removed, and thereby one large obstacle to the welfare of society.
"Just as some people are damaged by misuse of alcohol, so a few are adversely affected by misuses of other drugs. Society as a whole is not adversely affected by the use of drugs; but it would be benefited if it did not burden itself with a misjudged, unworkable and paternalistic endeavour to interfere with those who chose to use drugs."
John Perry Barlow, Co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation