Global Commission on Drug Policy

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The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) is a panel of world leaders and intellectuals, with a Secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland.[1]

In June 2011, the commission said: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world."[2] The emphasis in drug policy on harsh law enforcement over four decades has not accomplished its goal of banishing drugs and has in fact spawned wide, dramatic eruptions of violence, the report continued. By way of alternative, the GCDP report "advocates decriminalizing drug use by those who do no harm to others."[3]

The commission was formed to "bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. [It built] on the experience of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy."[4][5]


Members of the GCDP Board a/o December 2016 were:[6]

Former members

Reactions to 2011 report


Gabor Maté, a Hungarian-Canadian physician who specializes in study and treatment of addiction, was interviewed on Democracy Now! about the report.[8]

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed in The New York Times explicitly endorsing the recommendations of the commission, saying they were in line with the policies of his administration; and saying it was the policies of the succeeding Reagan administration which had moved U.S. policy so far toward punitive alternatives.[9] Carter's piece elicited several published responses, including one from an analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy who drew attention to the current White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's immediate rejection of GCDP's recommendations and defense of the "balanced drug control efforts" of the U.S. federal government; and others which agreed and disagreed with Carter's views.[10]

Brian Lehrer had Ethan Nadelmann, founder and director of the Drug Policy Alliance, on Lehrer's radio show to detail the GCDP report and how that might impact U.S. anti-drug policies.[11]

Sir Ronald Sanders, a consultant and former Caribbean diplomat, wrote in favor of the recommendations and endorsement of President Carter's expressed views.[12]


Peter Hakim prominently cited the GCDP report in an October, 2011, "rethinking [of] U.S. drug policy".[13]

The Beckley Foundation's Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform antedated the release of the GCDP report but integrated the GCPD into its November, 2011, British House of Lords meetings. Professor Robin Room (University of Melbourne[14]) was preparing a "Rewriting the UN Drug Conventions Report" based on amendments to the UN drug control conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 for the Initiative; and Professor Stephen Pudney (Institute for Social and Economic Research) was preparing "the first-ever Cost-benefit Analysis of the control of cannabis through regulation and taxation in the UK" for it.[15] Amanda Feilding of the Foundation and other peers led the effort[16] and attracted some criticism for it.[17]

Background papers

as of 2011-11-25[18]
  • "Demand reduction and harm reduction", by Dr Alex Wodak AM
  • "Drug policy, criminal justice and mass imprisonment", by Bryan Stevenson
  • "Assessing supply-side policy and practice: Eradication and alternative development, by David Mansfield
  • "The development of international drug control: Lessons learned and strategic challenges for the future" by Martin Jelsma
  • "Drug policy: Lessons learned and options for the future", by Mike Trace
  • "The drug trade: The politicization of criminals and the criminalization of politicians" by Moisés Naím

According to the blog Sensi Seeds, "The Commission is now preparing another six papers covering its main areas of enquiry – the results of current drug-control measures, harm reduction and suggestions for improved policies. Naturally, more attention is focused on hard drugs due to the far greater damage associated with them; however, two of these papers will specifically address the issue of cannabis" legalization and decriminalization, including "Paper 4: Criminal justice challenges".[19]

2014 report

On September 9, 2014 the Commission issued its new report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work.[20] "The report reflects the evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches and now also call for permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes."[21]

Disappointment with UNGASS 2016

In April 2016, the GCDP reacted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) drug conference, saying the commission was "profoundly disappointed with the adopted outcome document".[22] The Wall Street Journal lumped the attendees' positions "somewhat" in two camps: "Some European and South American countries as well as the U.S. favored softer approaches. Eastern countries such as China and Russia and most Muslim nations like Iran, Indonesia and Pakistan remained staunchly opposed." Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said “We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention” and that Mexico was considering legalizing medical marijuana and limited decriminalization of the drug. GCDP member Branson was quoted as saying the conference outcome was "out of step with world sentiment and doubles down on status quo”.[23]

2016 yearly report

In November 2016 GCDP released its yearly report, Advancing Drug Policy Reform: a new approach to decriminalization.[24]

Commission Chair Dreifuss said about the report:

After years of denouncing the dramatic effects of prohibition and the criminalization of people that do no harm but use drugs on the society as a whole, it is time to highlight the benefits of well-designed and well-implemented people-centered drug polices. These innovative policies cannot exist as long as we do not discuss, honestly, the major policy error made in the past, which is the criminalization of personal consumption or possession of illicit psychoactive substances in national laws.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "World Leaders Call for End to Criminalizing Drug Consumption", The Costa Rica Star, November 28, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  2. ^ Shultz, George P., and Paul A. Volcker (11 June 2011). "A Real Debate About Drug Policy". The Wall Street Journal. 
  3. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan, "Report: The Global War on Drugs Has Failed. Is It Time to Legalize?", Time, June 03, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  4. ^ "Commission" page, GCDP webpage. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  5. ^ Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy membership Archived 2011-05-04 at the Wayback Machine., LAIDD webpage. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  6. ^ "GCDP Commissioners", webpage. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  7. ^ Kwaśniewski, Aleksander, "Saying No to Costly Drug Laws" New York Times, May 10, 2012.
  8. ^ "Dr. Gabor Maté: Obama Admin Should Heed Global Panel's Call to End 'Failed' U.S.-Led Drug War", Democracy Now!, June 6, 2011. Audio and transcript.
  9. ^ Carter, Jimmy, "Call Off the Global Drug War", The New York Times, June 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  10. ^ "Letters: Dispatches From the War on Drugs", The New York Times, June 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  11. ^ "Serious Words", The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, June 27, 2011. Audio archive only. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  12. ^ "Global drugs war strategy has failed - overhaul it", The Tribune, June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  13. ^ Hakim, Peter, "Rethinking US Drug Policy", Política Exterior (Inter-American Dialogue), October 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  14. ^ Bio, Beckley Foundation webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  15. ^ "Global Initiative", Beckley Foundation webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  16. ^ Beckford, Martin, "It's time to decriminalise drug use, say peers", The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  17. ^ Phillips, Melanie, "Drug legalisation? We need it like a hole in the head", Daily Mail, 19th November 2011 5:10 pm. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  18. ^ "Background Papers", GCDP webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  19. ^ "The Global Commission on Drug Policy: Addressing Cannabis Legalization",, November 11, 2011. It's not completely clear or confirmed that the Commission is doing "another" six reports, but it seems likely the blog had solid information. Earlier in the post, the post did appear to conflate the GCDP with the earlier Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  20. ^ Taking Control: Summary,, September 2014. Downloads of full report available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.
  21. ^ "New Report: World Leaders Call For Ending Criminalization of Drug Use and Possession and Responsible Legal Regulation of Psychoactive Substances",, September 8, 2014.
  22. ^ "Public Statement by the Global Commission on Drug Policy on UNGASS 2016", Press release, April 21, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  23. ^ Fassihi, Farnaz, "U.N. Conference on Drugs Ends Without Shift in Policy", Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  24. ^ "Advancing Drug Policy Reform: 2016",, 2016. Downloads available in English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Arabic. Retrieved 2016-12-06.

External links

  • Official website
  • "Zero Tolerance" - Commission member Caspers-Merk on drug policy (in German)
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