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World Health Organization Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Use 474

An anonymous reader writes: We've known for a while: the War on Drugs isn't working. Scientists, journalists, economists, and politicians have all argued against continuing the expensive and ineffective fight. Now, the World Health Organization has said flat out that nations should work to decriminalize the use of drugs. The recommendations came as part of a report released this month focusing on the prevention and treatment of HIV. "The WHO's unambiguous recommendation is clearly grounded in concerns for public health and human rights. Whilst the call is made in the context of the policy response to HIV specifically, it clearly has broader ramifications, specifically including drug use other than injecting. In the report, the WHO says: 'Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration. ...Countries should ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs." The bottom line is that the criminalization of drug use comes with substantial costs, while providing no substantial benefit.
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World Health Organization Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Use

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  • No public drug use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2014 @09:52AM (#47488443)

    No ads, no public displays of drug use, no public drug use, not even in designated public venues, and no brown paper bag bullshit either. Keep it private. No operating heavy machinery or participation in traffic while intoxicated. But yeah, the drug use itself should not be criminal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2014 @09:54AM (#47488453)

    Legalization of drugs means that government and its corporate masters can seize upon the opportunity to tax and profit from widespread addiction. Also, government should see legalization as an opportunity for greater control, as with the *right* legal drugs, a population can be kept high in a sedate way, and therefore under complete control.

    A stoned society is a polite society, and one which can be easily controlled by government.

  • Safe injection sites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19, 2014 @09:59AM (#47488477)
    We're seeing more places around the world with so called "safe injection sites" which seem to be helping people's safety. I've often wondered if it idea was taken a step further. Create safe haven drug houses, drugs are free, safe from impurities etc provided by the government (likely far cheaper than current policing costs). But you have to stay in a small padded room with nothing to do until the drugs leave your system, and be monitored by nurses. Would they be very popular? Would this all but eliminate the illegal drug trade if drugs were free and safe? I would think for all but the worst addicts, the novelty would be gone, and they would hopefully move on in life.
  • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @10:39AM (#47488687)

    It might cause a few deaths but it also sustains the multi billion dollar prison industry and employs well over 1 million people in the US alone, and that it just counting the lawfully employed.

    The government profits from illegal drugs even more than drug cartels do.

    The reality is that law enforcement, and other areas of the government, used the war on drugs as justification for increased budget, manpower, weapons, laws (search & seizure), etc. Now that the justification has moved towards terrorism, both real and based on hype, and the drug war isn't needed any more. In fact, most law enforcement agencies now have bigger and more expensive toys today (i.e. drones, highly weaponized SWAT teams, etc.) based on terrorism.

    As you said, the one lobby that NEEDS the war on drugs to continue is the US prison industry. From Wikipedia "Drug related charges accounted for more than half the rise in state prisoners. The result, 31 million people have been arrested on drug related charges, approximately 1 in 10 Americans." Granted, a good portion of this includes people who are violent criminals and are also booked on drug charges. However, there can be no denying that if 1 in 10 people are going to jail based on a single type of crime, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate public policies and whether these activities should be considered crimes.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by itsenrique ( 846636 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @10:40AM (#47488693)
    It might then surprise you to learn that both Heroin (not in the USA *presently* but in Europe) and methamphetamine are already legal in certain forms for certain diseases. Heroin is used for end-of-life cancer treatment from what I understand in some countries because it is more powerful than morphine for pain relief. Methamphetamine is prescribed for weight loss sometimes still (although is efficacy compared to surgeries is questionable) and for extreme cases of ADD. It is designed to be used orally however and not smoked or injected.
  • by itsenrique ( 846636 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @10:48AM (#47488727)

    No ads, no public displays of drug use, no public drug use, not even in designated public venues, and no brown paper bag bullshit either. Keep it private. No operating heavy machinery or participation in traffic while intoxicated. But yeah, the drug use itself should not be criminal.

    No ads? OK, sounds reasonable. No public display? OK, we don't allow this for alcohol EXCEPT in designated venues. Do you see a problem with pot cafes? Or methadone clinics? If by public you mean on the street OK, but if you mean no consumption anywhere except the home this contradicts how we treat alcohol. No brown paper bag bullshit? Well you don't usually drink drugs, so OK. No operating machinery or participating in traffic while intoxicated? OK, although proving this for many drugs is much more challenging than alcohol. Example: marijuana.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Sam36 ( 1065410 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:07AM (#47488809)
    I disagree. I find irony in America's constant pursuit and judgment of those that smoke cigarettes. Yet there is this huge push to 'make everything legal'. As far as health goes, smoking cigs is much better than injecting heroin or smoking meth.

    I think the people that will suffer the worst are the poor. Intelligent, normal income people know what drug use leads to. The people in the poverty underworld (those which will never post to /.), will be hit hardest by easy to reach drugs. That leads to many things, more deaths, more high school drop outs, and less employable people.
  • by itsenrique ( 846636 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:08AM (#47488817)
    I think what most people are suggesting is more like local police (or federals) still go after street dealers because legal regulated sale will be allowed that by and large will be the norm because people know it's safe. Like ALCOHOL. Sure, theres a few old timers and rural folk still running moonshine stills, but really, almost all alcohol sale and consumption in the US is legal and taxed. So, there will be some sort of clinic or dispensary where you to go to get your cocaine or heroin. Perhaps there are limits to amount and refusal of sale if customer is already visibly intoxicated, there are hours when sale is restricted (to prevent never-ending binges), and proper ID is required but hopefully goes back to no centralized database. This looks an awful lot like how we handle liquor already, it would be a little more complicated, but not much.
  • by znrt ( 2424692 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @11:49AM (#47489017)

    Yes, I see a problem with pot cafes. Drug use is not OK

    drug use IS OK. drug abuse is not.

    I see a problem with views like yours which shift the blame on the substance, righteously ignoring the root problems which are social and educational. this view solves nothing, perpetuates the real problems and just supports the status in quo in keeping the prohibition circus going.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrimaryConsult ( 1546585 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:50PM (#47489683)

    I had a silly idea regarding this while visiting California last year. If you've ever walked the streets of either SF or LA at night, you will undoubtedly have found an experience with the homeless similar to that of a zombie movie, except instead of chanting "brains" they're chanting "change". So, once the war on drugs has been ended, some prisons could be converted to compulsory overnight housing: if you do not have a permanent address, and are found unconscious in a public location (either due to sleep or whatever), you get a free bus ride to a former prison for a good night's sleep. The same buses could take you back to the city you were picked up in the morning if you so desire, or you can stick around for 3 hots and a cot (maybe some job counseling and medical care), grab a later bus, whatever. The only prison industry jobs lost would be guard-related. All the administrative, catering, medical, and transport jobs would be retained. Some homeless people have a slightly better life (many of them are too proud/stupid/mentally ill to ask for help but if forced, they'd accept it), and American cities would have an overall better quality of life for all involved.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @02:07PM (#47489753) Journal

    I don't see a contradiction (although I'm not an American). I have no problems with people smoking, snorting, injecting, or otherwise consuming any drugs that they want. I do object if they blow smoke in public areas or leave needles (especially used ones) lying around in public places.

    I would be in favour of banning smoking anything in public places (including places of work) and permitting people to take any drugs that they want in their own home. There are some difficult areas (for example, should people with children be allowed to smoke whatever they like at home around their children?) but the general rule of thumb should be that you can do whatever you want to your own body and mind, just don't do it to anyone else.

  • Re: Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @05:59PM (#47490701)

    Are they? Or is it rather the crap that is used to turn a gram of $substance into ten for higher profits?

    There are drugs that are dangerous. No doubt about that. But one really has to wonder how many deaths are actually due to them not being available in a clean, regulated and reliable fashion. How many drug overdoses are due to addicts not knowing just how "potent" the stuff they buy is, and hence how much of it they should take? How many drug related diseases and deaths are due to the various shit cut in to maximize the profit and unsafe, unsanitary ways they are delivered?

    I have a friend working with an organization that "tests" the drugs you can buy. They're basically working on a "don't ask don't tell" base, i.e. they don't give a shit where you got it from and they don't care what you do with it. What they do is analyze what you got and tell you what it is. You'd be surprised if not horrified to learn just WHAT kind of shit is being mixed into drugs. In a nutshell, the additives are usually BY FAR more dangerous than the actual drug itself.

    To put it simply, making various drugs that are now "street only" available legally and reliably, regulated by law with strict requirements for companies producing them to ensure quality would by some margin lower drug related health problems. Even if consumption tripled.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @07:37PM (#47491231)

    That would put a heavy dent in the income of the organizations that manage the prison systems (which are mostly cronies of the politicians).

    Everyone making money off the status quo will fight tooth and nail to maintain it. That's a given. New crimes are being defined all the time, the one that pops into my mind first is unauthorized use of computers. And just try to exercise your first amendment right to protest within earshot of the president.

    Since Orwell's 1984 has been spot on so far, my guess is that the next activity to be made illegal is any attempt to maintain privacy. Seems to be the way the winds are blowing, anyway.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr.CRC ( 2330444 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:03AM (#47492179)

    "One drug that I think probably *should* be illegal is PCP. OTOH, I doubt that having it illegal is a big problem. Few people appear to be attracted to it. The reason that I think it probably should be illegal is that reports are that it causes people to become excessively violent without warning."

    1. If other, less intense drugs were legal, the attractiveness of PCP would be even lower.

    2. It is highly likely that the so called reports that it causes people to become excessively violent are because, being illegal, people were confronted by police while on PCP, and freaked out. If PCP were legal and you didn't get arrested just for acting odd, then these people would not have freaked out and acted violently. Thus, the popular beliefs about PCP heavily distorted by confirmation bias. They are basically pure propaganda.

    3. In a world of legal drugs where you can purchase PCP at a pharmacy or chemical supplier simply by signing a waiver that relieves the seller of any liability for the effects of your taking it, then information about the REAL effects, dangers, and value of doing and particular drug would be more freely available and factual. It is unlikely that PCP would be frequently used except by a tiny fraction of the population.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson