Cannabis / Marijuana, EDITORIAL
Global Dialogue on Drugs Changing Rapidly
By Anthony Wile - November 01, 2014

Two more recent news articles reemphasize how the drug dialogue is changing – and, yes, we've been "on top if it" from the very beginning. In fact, we focused on worldwide drug legalization in a series of groundbreaking articles. You can see one here:

World Leaders Make Bold New Recommendations To Legalize Drugs, As High Alert Predicted

Now the mainstream media are joining in. Here's an excerpt from a recent article posted at The Daily Beast:

Britain Admits Anti-Drug Laws Are Useless … The government commissioned a massive study on the impact of international anti-drug laws—but its conclusions have the Conservatives spooked.

It's the recreational drug report they didn't want you to see. A comprehensive study of international narcotics regulations commissioned by Britain has concluded that there is no evidence tough anti-drug laws have any effect on levels of use.

Senior government officials are accused of trying to delay or even prevent the publication of the report, which contradicts the official policy of Britain and many of its Western allies, including the United States.

The coalition government's crime prevention minister said the report has been ready for months but "it was suppressed by the Conservatives." Coalition junior partners, the Liberal Democrats, have advocated relaxing drug laws and argued that there are far too many drug users in jail.

In compiling the report Home Office officials visited 11 countries, including the U.S., with a wide-range of drug policies—from Portugal, where all drug use has been decriminalized, to Japan, where a 'zero-tolerance' policy is in operation. The conclusion: law enforcement policies have no impact on the rate of drug use.

… Norman Baker, the Lib Dem crime prevention minister, said his Conservative colleagues were terrified of the report because it didn't suit their existing preconceptions. "For me the evidence is very clear. If you see a tree, it's a tree," he said. "The Liberal Democrats believe drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound tough."

"We've had what I would call mindless rhetoric over the last 40 years which has tended to say there is only one solution and anyone who offers any alternative must by definition be 'soft on drugs'."

This is truly an unusual article and its appearance in a significant mainstream media outfit shows the changing nature of the debate.

Before it is done, policy-making regarding drugs and drug prohibition will probably be thoroughly and deservedly discredited. This is one reason why we've written in the past that the coalition of policing authorities and private corporations that hope to slow or stem the advancing legalization tide are probably doomed to fail.

Decriminalization and legalization are gathering strength every day, driven by a powerful wave of support from prestigious and powerful influencers – think tanks, policy-makers, politicians and various private interests.

Unfortunately, it also shows the ruthlessness of the current drug conversation within the context of this extraordinary rethinking. When one considers the amount of ruin that the drug war has visited around the world in the past 50 years, the blight of ill-considered policies, regulations and incarcerations becomes obvious.

There is hardly a single country in the world that has not been scarred by the drug war. Yet the scale and scope of the current retrenchment is unprecedented and will surely give rise to further questioning about how such a global campaign took root and was allowed to metastasize.

Here's an excerpt from yet another recent article, this one posted at Reuters, revealing how rapidly the "common wisdom" regarding drugs is being revised.

Surprising source offers signs the global 'war on drugs' may be ending … The contentious debate over international drug policy was potentially transformed a few weeks ago, when the United States strongly reiterated a major shift in policy.

William R. Brownfield, assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs summed up the key idea underpinning the shift at the United Nations on Oct. 9:

Things have changed since 1961. We must have enough flexibility to allow us to incorporate those changes into our policies … to tolerate different national drug policies, to accept the fact that some countries will have very strict drug approaches; other countries will legalize entire categories of drugs.

The statement is hugely significant as it represents a new diplomatic doctrine and a potential tipping point in efforts to end the disastrous "war on drugs" that has lasted six decades.

… The United States was a key architect of the international control system, begun in 1909, and has traditionally served as chief proselytizer for a repressive prohibitionist model globally. Although it initially rejected the 1961 Single Convention as too weak relative to its predecessor treaties, the United States soon embraced it as a useful mechanism to rally nations towards the global war on drugs, formally launched in the 1970s. The United States soon worked to strengthen the convention through successor treaties, funding initiatives and aggressive bilateral drug diplomacy.

Now that the United States has openly rejected the role of key bilateral enforcer the United Nations will likely cease to be a forum where states are pressured to pursue the war on drugs orthodoxy. Instead, it can become a forum that facilitates cooperation and discussion on a new range of policy approaches.

We've written about the changing role of the United Nations within the context of the drug war and while that is a substantive shift, the largest evolution is fully pan-global. In virtually every region of the world it seems, there is a rethinking taking place when it comes to drugs and the prosecution and incarceration of those who use them.

This second article is illuminating because it provides some clues to the emergent new regime when it comes to the way policy-makers may position new attitudes toward drugs by making reference to Brownfield's "framework."

The article continues: As "states approach the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, Brownfield's framework provides a practical way forward. It allows states to push ahead with various national regulatory reforms, including regulated markets around the recreational use of certain drugs."

Importantly, the Reuters article claims that the Brownfield framework, "focuses diplomatic effort on preserving the 'core' of the conventions — nothing to do with national cannabis or coca leaf prohibitions, and everything to do with regulating licit markets for pain medicines."

These are thus two significant points to consider when it come to the emergent consensus regarding drug enforcement in the New Age of the 21st century.

  • Regulated markets are being considered for the "recreational use of certain drugs."
  • The "core" of conventions will be retained as a framework for regulating "licit markets for pain medicines."

Interestingly, a new dialectic can be observed … as this article makes reference to Russia and certain "conservative" states as providing continual pushback to the world's evolving view on drugs and drug control.

The main obstacle to this change will likely remain Russia and a coalition of conservative states that are reticent to move away from a militarized and repressive police response. Nonetheless, Russia, despite a strong grip on the UN drug control apparatus, will struggle to enforce its vision due to the post-Ukraine diplomatic freeze and a general recognition that Russia's domestic drug policies have fuelled incarceration, human rights abuses and a HIV epidemic.

I've discussed two articles in this editorial, but as significant as they are, they are merely signposts for an extensive and significant re-mapping of the modern world. Imagine such a world without the corrosive militarization that has accompanied this unwinnable and unjust – and seemingly endless – anti-drug crusade.

Imagine as well the entrepreneurial, medicinal and recreational advantages that will accrue to interested parties as the violence of the drug war diminishes and peaceful approaches featuring tolerance and treatment are substituted for decades of confrontation.

Times are surely changing. You can count on The Daily Bell to continue to bring you groundbreaking coverage of this most important trend, no less significant than the end of alcohol prohibition in 1933. Out of such a significant event will arise numerous sociopolitical and economic benefits including wealth-building opportunities.

Posted in Cannabis / Marijuana, EDITORIAL