When the United Nations adopted the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961, most people did not expect that 50 years later nobody will celebrate the anniversary of global drug prohibition but a group of drug lords. Drug prohibition created a lucrative black market that generates annual revenue of 320 billion dollars for organized crime: who else have a better reason to celebrate?
The celebration outside of the Vienna International Centre on March 21 was a spoof demonstration organized by the HCLU – but the profits of drug lords are real, as well as the harms of drug prohibition. Even the new director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) acknowledged that current drug control policies did not result in the elimination or significant reduction of the drug market, supply and demand have merely shifted elsewhere. The speakers we invieted to our press conference highlighted that current drug policies have many unintended consequences - but as The Independent pointed out, the UN "sticks to punitive policy despite major failings".
Many NGOs joined the UK-based drug policy think thank, Transform in the “Count the Costs!” campaign that calls on government to evaluate the 50 years of global prohibition. Transform identified 6 major costs of the global drug war: it undermines health and security, threatens public health by spreading disease and death, undermines human rights, promotes discrimination and stigma, creates crime and enrich criminals, leads to deforestation and pollution and wastes billions of dollars on drug law enforcement. Distinguished government officials, it is time to count the costs!