A drug free world is an illusion, former UN Secretary General Kofi has said.
According to Mr Annan, the original intent of drug policy, according to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, was to protect the “health and welfare of mankind”.
In a write up on Linked In, the Ghanaian diplomat called for a decriminalization of drugs and a stop to stigma against drug users.
Mr Annan has, therefore, suggested four steps in dealing with drug related issue.
He said: “First, we must decriminalise personal drug use. The use of drugs is harmful and reducing those harms is a task for the public health system, not the courts. This must be coupled with the strengthening of treatment services, especially in middle and low income countries.
“Second, we need to accept that a drugfree world is an illusion. We must focus instead on ensuring that drugs cause the least possible harm. Harm reduction measures, such as needle exchange programs, can make a real difference. Germany adopted such measures early on and the level of HIV infections among injecting drug users is close to 5 percent, compared to over 40 per cent in some countries which resist this pragmatic approach.
“Third, we have to look at regulation and public education rather than the total suppression of drugs, which we know will not work. The steps taken successfully to reduce tobacco consumption (a very powerful and damaging addiction) show what can be achieved. It is regulation and education, not the threat of prison, which has cut the number of smokers in many countries. Higher taxes, restrictions on sale and effective anti-smoking campaigns have delivered the right results”.
Mr Annan’s final step calls for the legal sale of cannabis for recreational use. He argues that where cannabis has been legalised, there has been no explosion in drug use or drugrelated crime.
“The legal sale of cannabis is a reality that started with California legalising the sale of cannabis for medical use in 1996. Since then, 22 US states and some European countries have followed suit. Others have gone further still. A voter initiative which gained a majority at the ballot box has caused Colorado to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Last year, Colorado collected around $135 million in taxes and license fees related to legal cannabis sales. Others have taken less commercial routes. Users of Spain’s cannabis social clubs can grow and buy cannabis through small noncommercial organizations. And Canada looks likely to become the first G7 country to regulate the sale of cannabis next year”, he added.