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International Statesmen Call for Experimenting with Drug Legalization

On Tuesday a broad coalition of international statesmen including former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former Presidents from Mexico, Switzerland, Brazil, Portugal, Chile and Poland called for the world to move towards a new approach on drug policy. Their vision would end the criminalization of drug use and instead focus on health, harm reduction, and the legal regulation of drugs. The plan is laid out in a new report Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work from the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

“Ultimately, the global drug control regime must be reformed to permit legal regulation,” said former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso. “Let’s start by treating drug addiction as a health issue – rather than as a crime – and by reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives. But let’s also allow and encourage countries to carefully test models of responsible legal regulation as a means to undermine the power of organized crime, which thrives on illicit drug trafficking.”

The top recommendations of the report are to put health and safety first, to stop criminalizing people for drug use, focus on reducing the power of criminal organizations, find alternatives to incarceration for low-level parts of the drug market, and encourage diverse experiments in legally regulating markets in currently illicit drugs.

This is part of a movement towards drug policy reform which has been growing especially in the Americas as Latin American nations debate new approaches to reduce cartel violence.

The coalition will be meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson this afternoon to discuss their findings.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at

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