By David Borden
Today's New York Times features an op-ed by Jimmy Carter, Call Off the Global Drug War. Check it out.
Carter's piece reacts to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose findings and recommendations he cites in it. As Carter notes, he is not the only head of state to raise the issue:
The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.
The commission, he notes, reports on the drug war's failure:
It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008.
He recounts his some of his own history in the issue:
In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."
And he shares some of the consequences of the drug war he more recently saw up close:
A few years ago I worked side by side for four months with a group of prison inmates, who were learning the building trade, to renovate some public buildings in my hometown of Plains, Ga. They were intelligent and dedicated young men, each preparing for a productive life after the completion of his sentence. More than half of them were in prison for drug-related crimes, and would have been better off in college or trade school.
So another head of state is on board. Who will be the next one?