Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

The report reflects the evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches and now also call for permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes.

In 2011, the Commission’s initial report broke new ground in both advancing and globalizing the debate over drug prohibition and its alternatives. Saying the time had come to “break the taboo”, it condemned the drug war as a failure and recommended major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime.

The Commission’s work has helped to create conditions for not just former presidents but current presidents to speak out as well. The Commission’s calls for reform were joined by current Presidents Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, Otto Perez Molina in Guatemala, and José Mujica in Uruguay, as well as then-President Felipe Calderón in Mexico. At the Summit of the Americas in April 2012, drug policy reform was a major topic of debate for the first time in the Summit’s history. In May 2013, the Organization of American States produced a report, commissioned by heads of state of the region, which included legalization as a likely policy alternative. Last December, Uruguay then took the discussion another step further by becoming the first country in the world to approve the legal regulation of the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.

These developments instigated the process that resulted in the upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs in 2016, which will present the opportunity to lay the foundation of a new drug control regime for the 21stcentury. Whereas the previous UNGASS meeting in 1998 was dominated by rhetorical calls for a “drug-free world” and concluded with unrealistic goals regarding illicit drug production, the Global Commission hopes that the forthcoming meeting in 2016 will consider its recommendations and be used as a space for reshaping drug policy along the principles of human rights, public health and scientific evidence, and allowing member States to take control.

You may download the report here.

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