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EU sees failure of anti-drug policies after 10 years

VIENNA – Global drug policies have failed over the past 10 years to reduce the problem in any way, according to an EU report presented Tuesday in Vienna, ahead of a UN conference on narcotics.

The report, which was carried out for the European Commission by an independent group of international experts, "found no evidence that the global drug problem has been reduced during the period from 1998 to 2007."

While increased action has been taken against producers and sellers, the report noted that prices in Western countries "have fallen since 1998 by as much as 10 to 30 percent."

And "there is no evidence that drugs have become more difficult to obtain," it added.

The report comes a day before the 53 member states of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) are to meet in Vienna to discuss global drug policies since a 1998 UN plan to reduce drug abuse and trafficking.

But the document, which was ordered by the EU’s Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot, highlights the near total failure of drug enforcement.

"The most harm comes from policies rather than from drugs," said Peter Reuter from the University of Maryland, who led the studies for the report.

"Enforcement of drug policies has caused lots of unintended harm," he told a press conference in Vienna.

Reuter also noted: "It’s very hard to demonstrate the consequences of tougher enforcement on quantity or prices."

On the contrary, the fight against drugs contributed to corruption and crime, and increased health risks for consumers, he said.

AFP / Expatica