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International - Richard Branson: Time to end the war on drugs

Discussion in 'Drug Policy Reform & Narco Politics' started by Terrapinzflyer, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Terrapinzflyer

    Terrapinzflyer MDMA, RC & News Forums Platinum Member & Advisor

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    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23818&stc=1&d=1325035238[/IMGL]Visited Portugal, as one of the Global Drug Commissioners, to congratulate them on the success of their drug policies over the last 10 years.

    Ten years ago the Portuguese Government responded to widespread public concern over drugs by rejecting a “war on drugs” approach and instead decriminalized drug possession and use. It further rebuffed convention by placing the responsibility for decreasing drug demand as well as managing dependency under the Ministry of Health rather than the Ministry of Justice. With this, the official response towards drug-dependent persons shifted from viewing them as criminals to treating them as patients.

    Now with a decade of experience Portugal provides a valuable case study of how decriminalization coupled with evidence-based strategies can reduce drug consumption, dependence, recidivism and HIV infection and create safer communities for all.

    I will set out clearly what I learned from my visit to Portugal and would urge other countries to study this:

    In 2001 Portugal became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

    Jail time was replaced with offer of therapy. (The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is much more expensive than treatment).

    Under Portugal’s new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker, and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.

    Critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to “drug tourists” and exacerbate Portugal’s drug problem; the country has some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. The recently realised results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, suggest otherwise.

    The paper, published by Cato in April 2011, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

    It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.

    Compared to the European Union and the US, Portugal drug use numbers are impressive.

    Following decriminalization, Portugal has the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the EU: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%, Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

    The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%. Drug use in older teens also declined. Life time heroin use among 16-18 year olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8%.

    New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003.

    Death related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half.

    The number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and the considerable money saved on enforcement allowed for increase funding of drug – free treatment as well.

    Property theft has dropped dramatically (50% - 80% of all property theft worldwide is caused by drug users).

    America has the highest rates of cocaine and marijuana use in the world, and while most of the EU (including Holland) has more liberal drug laws than the US, it also has less drug use.

    Current policy debate is that it’s based on “speculation and fear mongering”, rather than empirical evidence on the effect of more lenient drug policies. In Portugal, the effect was to neutralize what had become the country’s number one public health problem.

    Decriminalization does not result in increased drug use.

    Portugal’s 10 year experiment shows clearly that enough is enough. It is time to end the war on drugs worldwide. We must stop criminalising drug users. Health and treatment should be offered to drug users – not prison. Bad drugs policies affect literally hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the world. We need to provide medical help to those that have problematic use – not criminal retribution.


    By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group
    http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/time-to-end-the-war-on-drugs
     

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  2. yeslek

    yeslek Newbie

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    reminds me of the definition of insanity: trying the same thing over and over but expecting differant results.....time the rest of the EU adopted a differant approach if they want to see differant results IMO
     
  3. eisenbass

    eisenbass Newbie

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    True that....

    The consequence by not legalizing will always be greater than by legalizing... It will happen. It's a giant income opportunity just waiting to be milked... Sit tight and wait! :)
     
  4. plexx

    plexx Silver Member

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    Even if this was present to the American Govt., they would deny it. The would find that the studies weren't credible and would go on about how the study was flawed. And if that didn't work, then the US would just ignore people standing up. It's like they hate their populace and want to make them suffer. I can't wait to go back to BC and ski all the time.
     
  5. Baba Blacksheep

    Baba Blacksheep Titanium Member Donating Member

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    The Global Commission is going to wake people up. This is a humanitarian issue and first world countries need to acknowledge the compounded damage the current U.N drug policy has and is doing round the world.
     
  6. ianzombie

    ianzombie Platinum Member & Advisor

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    I like Richard. he seems like a good guy.

    I read recently he is in the top ten (in the world) when it comes to making charitable donations and spreading his wealth.
    He has no problem broaching serious subjects, that unfortunatly leaders everywhere choose to ignore or think they know best about based on their own reefer madness based ideas of what drugs are.

    We see time and time again, the scientific community trying to get the governments to listen to sense and make a drug policy that is fair and aimed at looking after those who might have addictions or need help. Prison is not the answer. The genie has been out of the bottle for decades,lets not pretend that drugs dont exisit or that the reason some drugs are illegal has to do with them being too dangerous for society. while selling alcohol and cigerettes to anyone over 18/21 who can then drink as much and smoke as much as they want.

    I live in a country that passed a blanket ban on every psychoactive drug that exists now or might possibly exist in the future, bar smokes, alcohol and that other classic addictive substance, caffine.

    This is because so many countries ban drugs as they pop up, and the problem (as they say) persists. Everything (bar anything medicinal (according to their defination) is gone and were back to either people buying street drugs, who knows what. Growing their own, meaning more arrests and prosicutions regardless of size, or you are lucky enough to have access through other routes.

    The amount of people in US jails for cannabis possession is stagering, but i would imagine its a big problem everywhere. Its really sad and even if i was never to take drugs again i would love to see a more responsible aproach made by a scientfic backed govermental releas stating they were going to change their ways and stop being such drunken (not a real drug aparently, quite taxable too) cigarette smoking shower of hypocrites.

    Rant over,
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  7. Jingles

    Jingles Newbie

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    Wow what a great article! there does need to be a change in the laws 100%. I think the government should consider a more educated approach to drugs, people are always going to do them no matter what. Throwing users in jail is not a problem solver....... well done Portugal for being outside the box!
     
  8. kalishakti

    kalishakti Titanium Member

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    Which all pre-supposes that the government gives one whit about a better public outcome, reducing crime, etc. The REAL point is that US Prohibitionist policy is rigidly propped up because it is useful for other agendas: as a great money machine for the intelligence agencies/shadow government; as a corporate-government profit mill regarding propping up military arms and pesticide sales ("Plan Colombia"), as well as private prison profits. It's also served as a great pretext to militarize the police, which kept the military industrial machine going in the doldrum between the collapse of the cold war and the CIA's invention of "Islamic terrorism"; Besides it keeps natural substances from competing in the medicine cabinet against much more lucrative patented pharmaceuticals. It was a great "wedge" concept in creating "exceptions" to Constitutional protections which was the main erosion of our civil liberties, and set the stage now for the creation of a totalitarian police state "to protect us" (really, to protect "Them" from us)...

    Prohibition is a tried and tested scam kit relied upon by the elite, which they will never relinquish willingly. It doesn't matter that prohibition makes all related problems worse... for all those problems thus created have associated and copious profits... It will end, when we get the collective anger and cajones to drag down our psychopathic leadership and finally, hold them accountable for their crimes against We the People, as well as those around the world.
     
  9. constant limbo

    constant limbo Silver Member

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    the way that portugal treats its drug users as patients instead of criminals,has prooved to be the better way

    imo it's a policy thats long over due here in Scotland

    maybe if we get independance,when the vote takes place in the near future,our government will see sense and adopt this policy

    i know plenty people who have criminal records due to cannibus possesion,these people have broke NO other laws during their lives,but are branded criminals due to out dated laws,that were based on emotions rather than facts

    it's about time governments started looking at the facts and admitting their war on drugs has epically failed on all levels

    surely it's less expensive to offer someone residencial rehabilitation,rather than paying for the full security of putting them in jails

    hopefully all these international talks,will bring our out dated drug laws into the 21st centuary (not holding my breath)

    imo sadly as long as Scotland is part of the UK,it won't happen for fear of upsetting our american allies

    that said,imo the UK government also has it's own hidden agenda's,for keeping up an un winable war on drugs and making other wise law abiding people criminals