You are here

Ending the Drugs Wars

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In 1909, the United States convened a 13-nation meeting in Shanghai, China, to plot a response to the large amounts of opiates circulating around the globe. It was at this meeting—chaired by clergy, heavy in morality and lacking empirical evidence—that the idea of eradicating global drug abuse was first tabled. A 1912 follow-up meeting took place at The Hague and produced the International Opium Convention—the world’s first international drug control policy. 


Last week, the London School of Economics (LSE) published the Ending the Drugs Wars Report. Signed by five Nobel Prize winners in economics, it explains how this beginning and the intervening years leading to 1961 created a highly imperfect regulatory system to stop the supply of drugs. 


After 1961 these prohibitionist ideas—still immune from empirical evidence—became a political commonplace at the United Nations (UN) and gave birth to the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This led to policy formations claiming the impossible: that with enforcement and the diffusion of police measures internationally, a 3,000-year human habit could be retitled an “illicit market” and tamed.


User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff.

Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.

Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments.

Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.

Before posting, please refer to the Community Standards, Terms and conditions and Privacy Policy

User profiles registered through fake social media accounts may be deleted without notice.