Five Nobel Prize economists call for an end to the 'war on drugs' in a new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy outlines the enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage from the ‘war on drugs’ and includes a call on governments from five Nobel Prize economists to redirect resources away from an enforcement-led and prohibition-focused strategy, toward effective, evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis.
The report asserts a new and effective international strategy could emerge if two approaches are followed.
First, resources should be drastically reallocated away from law enforcement and repressive policies towards proven public health policies of harm reduction and treatment, with governments ensuring that these services are fully resourced to meet requirements.
Second, rigorously monitored policy and regulatory experimentation should be encouraged. States should be allowed to pursue new initiatives, the report argues, in order to determine which policies work and which don't. The places that legalise cannabis first will provide an external benefit to the rest of the world in the form of knowledge regardless of how the experiments turn out. As a result, pioneering jurisdictions should be accepted as long as they take adequate measures to prevent ‘exports’.
“The drug war’s failure has been recognized by public health professionals, security experts, human rights authorities and now some of the world’s most respected economists,” said John Collins, coordinator of LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project and editor of the report. "It will take time for a new international strategy to emerge. However, the most immediate task is ensuring a sound economic basis for the policies, and then to reallocate international resources accordingly,"
The LSE IDEAS report, will be presented to Guatemala’s Minister of Interior, Mauricio López Bonilla, tomorrow (Wednesday 7 May) at a public event at LSE. Guatemala’s President, Otto Pérez Molina, will then be taking the report to international forums such as the United Nations and Organization of American States to help drive reform of global drug policies.
The report outlines the effects of prohibition on security, drug prices, rule of law and public health. It comes as the UN General Assembly prepares to convene a special session on drugs in 2016 in order to review the functioning of the drug control system.
“Leaders need to recognize that toeing the line on current drug control strategies comes with extraordinary human and financial costs to their citizens and economies” said Danny Quah, Expert Group Chair and Professor of Economics and International Development at the LSE.
"The UN must recognise its role is to assist states as they pursue best-practice policies based on scientific evidence, not undermine or counteract them. If this alignment occurs, a new and effective international regime can emerge that effectively tackles the global drug problem. If not, states are likely to move ahead unilaterally and the international coordinating opportunities that the UN affords will be lost. This report sets out a roadmap for finally ending the drug wars."
Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy launches tonight with a public event at LSE tomorrow (6.30pm, Wednesday 7 May) which will be streamed live on LSE's website.
Read the full report here
More on the Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy here.
John Collins, LSE IDEAS, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07848 836124
Jess Winterstein, LSE Press Office, email@example.com, 020 7107 5025.
Notes for editors
 The report’s foreword was signed by:
• Professor Kenneth Arrow (1972 Nobel Prize in Economics)
• Professor Paul Collier, CBE, University of Oxford
• Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides (2010 Nobel Prize in Economics)
• Professor Jeffrey Sachs
• Professor Thomas Schelling (2005 Nobel Prize in Economics)
• Professor Vernon Smith (2002 Nobel Prize in Economics)
• Professor Oliver Williamson (2009 Nobel Prize in Economics)
• Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala
• Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
• George Shultz, US Secretary of State (1982 – 1989)
• Dr. Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (1999 – 2009), and others.
The Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy launch event is 6.30pm, Wednesday 7 May at LSE.
Speakers: Guatemala’s Minister of Interior, Mauricio López Bonilla; Professor Mark Kleiman, UCLA; Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, Global Drug Policy Program at Open Society Foundations; Professor Danny Quah (Chair), London School of Economics.
Tickets are required and the event will be streamed live on LSE"s website. http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2014/05/20140507t1830vLSE.aspx
6 May 2014