“The war on drugs has failed,” the editors of the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal declared this week, arguing that doctors should lead the global effort to reform drug policy.
Fiona Godlee, the journal’s editor-in-chief, and Richard Hurley, its features and debates editor, penned an analysis citing academic and scientific reports to argue global policies on drug use — including the United Nations’ — have fallen drastically short.
Godlee and Hurley note the annual cost of prohibition, which entails criminalizing “producers, traffickers, dealers, and users,”totals at least $100 billion annually.
“But the effectiveness of prohibition laws, colloquially known as the ‘war on drugs,’ must be judged on outcomes,” they write. “And too often the war on drugs plays out as a war on the millions of people who use drugs, and disproportionately on people who are poor or from ethnic minorities and on women.”
The authors cite a variety of reasons why the global war on drugs has been a failure.