By Suchitra Rajagopalan for The Huffington Post. Last month, more than 1,500 people from 71 countries gathered in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with one common goal: to end the War on Drugs. Attendees included diverse groups of people with strikingly different perspectives on drug policy; doctors, lawyers, Rastafarians, war veterans, and formerly incarcerated people amongst others. The diversity of this dynamic group reflects both the widespread impact of drug laws, and the urgent need for their reform.
There is growing consensus that the prohibitionist policies propagated by the U.S. have failed. Not only have they failed to decrease drug use and production, they have also led to a multitude of human rights violations worldwide.
The global drug regime has long been characterized by punishment and repression. The use, possession, cultivation, distribution, or trafficking of any narcotic drug invites criminal charges and lengthy prison sentences. After more than five decades of this approach, individuals and governments are beginning to acknowledge what those in the drug policy reform movement have been saying for years — prohibition doesn’t work. The goal of a ‘drug free society’ is unrealistic, as it fails to take into account human tendencies, cultural context, and the medical importance of the outlawed substances.