The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report was released yesterday. The section, “Confronting unintended consequences: Drug control and the criminal black market” is an interesting read. Section 2.1 “Why illicit drugs should remain illicit” squarely and intelligently takes on the pro-legalization argument. It paints a broader picture of the problem than any of the other policy articles I have seen. It also offers a holistic set of responses which are less focused on prosecuting individuals and more focused on macro interventions that address criminal consequences of prohibition at a systemic level. The report notes that “a small share of the user population appears to consume the bulk of the drug supply”; a perfect case for access to treatment for that small segment of the population .
A couple of highlights from the press release:
First, drug use should be treated as an illness. “People who take drugs need medical help,not criminal retribution,” said Mr. Costa. He appealed for universal access to drug treatment. Since people with serious drug problems provide the bulk of drug demand, treating this problem is one of the best ways of shrinking the market.Second, he called for “an end to the tragedy of cities out of control.” In the same way that most illicit cultivation takes place in regions out of government control, most drugs are sold in city neighbourhoods where public order has broken down. “Housing, jobs,education, public services, and recreation can make communities less vulnerable to drugs and crime”.