The war on drugs cannot be won, international experts have warned. They have called for legalisation to end the criminalisation of substance abusers and "undermine the power of organised crime" through the illicit trade.
Reacting to what they called a controversial report prepared by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, one expert-Graeme Pearson, a former director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency-told The Scotsman that making the drugs trade legal would encourage criminal gangs to get involved in counterfeiting and that crime linked to substance abuse would be at least as bad as it is now.
His comments came as a raft of celebrities, including actress Dame Judi Dench, singer Sting, film director Mike Leigh and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, along with former Labour Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth, signed an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for "the decriminalisation of drug possession".
The Global Commission's report, which called on governments to "end the criminalisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation" of people who use drugs, was backed by a leading Scottish expert on drugs and substance abuse. Dr Angus Bancroft, a senior sociology lecturer at Edinburgh University, said criminalising drugs "creates markets for criminals".
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and the ex-leaders of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil were among the signatories to the report, which said marijuana should be among the drugs decriminalised.