The Organization of American States has issued a report on global drugs policy that, some believe, could lead to the end of blanket prohibition.
Publication of the Organisation of American States (OAS) review,
commissioned at last year's Cartagena Summit of the Americas attended by
reflects growing dissatisfaction among Latin American countries with
the current global policy on illicit drugs. It spells out the effects of
the policy on many countries and examines what the global drugs trade
will look like if the status quo continues. It notes how rapidly
countries' unilateral drugs policies are evolving, while at the same
time there is a growing consensus over the human costs of the trade.
"Growing media attention regarding this phenomenon in many countries,
including on social media, reflects a world in which there is far
greater awareness of the violence and suffering associated with the drug
problem," José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the OAS, says
in a foreword to the review. "We also enjoy a much better grasp of the
human and social costs not only of drug use but also of the production
and transit of controlled substances."
Experts described the publication of the review as a historic moment.
"This report represents the most high-level discussion about drug policy
reform ever undertaken, and shows tremendous leadership from Latin
America on the global debate," said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, director
of the Open Society Foundation's Global Drug Policy Program, which has
described its publication as a "game-changer".
"While leaders have talked about moving from criminalisation to public
health in drug policy, punitive, abstinence-only approaches have still
predominated, even in the health sphere," said Daniel Wolfe, director of
the Open Society Foundation's International Harm Reduction Program.
"These scenarios offer a chance for leaders to replace indiscriminate
detention and rights' abuses with approaches that distinguish between
users and traffickers, and offer the community-based health services
that work best for those in need."
■ The open letter from the Global Commission on Drug Policy
is signed by George P Shultz, the former US secretary of state; Paul
Volcker, the former chairman of the US federal reserve, and the former
presidents of Mexico, Chile and Colombia