Al Jazeera Counts the Costs of the war on drugs

This Sunday, the international news channel Al Jazeera broadcast a 40-minute programme as part of their aptly named 'Counting the Cost' series. This time focusing on the costs of the war on drugs, the show featured interviews with the president of Guatemala, Otto Peres Molina; Kevin Sabet, formerly of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy; Armando Santacruz of the Mexican NGO Mexico United Against Crime; and Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at Transform Drug Policy Foundation

With demand and consumption as high as they are, the show asks whether the drug war has actually been worth it - and whether it has actually been working.

Reiterating his recent calls for a change in international drug policy, President Molina called for:

"a debate, dialogue, where we have statistics, studies and serious analysis of the subject. Based on the results we must come up with alternatives rather than keep doing the same things we’ve been doing that have clearly shown that we are not winning the war against drugs."

As the show points out, this desire for a fresh debate is one not shared by the US. So much so that it is currently illegal to pay for research into legalisation, as the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 states that the director of the ONDCP:

"shall ensure that no federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalisation (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance… listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act…"

The show is well worth a watch, with some good points being made. Check it out below.