Who would have thought it. The global prosecution of a war on drugs that spanned nations as diverse as the United States and Colombia, Afghanistan and Singapore is the subject of a United Nations review. It will examine how the “War on Drugs” is/not going and whether a change of tactics and thinking is needed.
The “War on Drugs” might have been fought with the best intentions. However as nations such as Colombia can attest, it has had absolutely devastating socio-economic consequences, cost the countries affected billions of dollars in revenue caused by investment being pulled, tens of thousands of deaths in Colombia alone and social scars that will take generations to heal. Therefore one can say it certainly was not executed as well as it could have been, and that failure to conduct it properly may in the end be the cause for people wondering why it is still being fought.
This is not to say that nations are just going to roll over and stop prosecuting criminal offences. Nor is it to say that further use of the death penalty in countries like Singapore and Indonesia is unlikely – on the contrary there are probably people on death row in those countries right this minute. It certainly is not to say that just because a United Nations panel is meeting that all drugs should suddenly be decriminalized. Far from it being the case – there are indeed drugs, such as methamphetamine, speed, cocaine that should permanently remain criminalized.
But there are also those that are marginal. And whose legal status should be at least in partial question – especially if there are known medical benefits that can be derived from (partial) decriminalization. This is particularly for drugs of a cannabinoid nature.
I have already argued for the decriminalization of medical marijuana following several compelling cases recently in New Zealand. In each of these cases it was obvious that conventional medication was not working, and that medical marijuana had been found to be a more humane solution to reduce the pain.
The money saved from changing course in this war will be substantial. The monetary value of reinvesting it in rehabilitation and researching medical usage of marijuana, might not be able to be fully calculated on the basis that for every dollar reinvested, the social gains that could be made by individuals genuinely wanting to wean themselves of their drug of choice are immense. For those addicts who understand that it involves a significant effort on both sides, the opportunity and the assistance achieving the removal of drugs from their lives should be considered an investment in their health and that of society at large. If it enables them to eventually live something approaching somewhat normal lives, contributing to the economy and maybe entering into a relationship, then it has to be a good thing.