Three Countries Take a Tiny First Step Toward More Sensible Drug Laws

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Why are U.S. drug laws so draconian? Partly it’s because Congress wants it that way, but partly it’s because the United States is a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which pretty much requires us to keep the production and distribution of psychoactive drugs prohibited. Because of this, there’s not much chance of significantly changing our drug laws unless we also change the Single Convention. That’s why Mark Kleiman thinks a recent joint declaration of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico could be “significant news.” Here are some key excerpts:

We declare:

….2. That despite the efforts of the international community over decades, the use of [illicit drugs] continues to increase globally, generating substantial income for criminal organizations worldwide.

….6. It is urgent to review the approach so far maintained by the international community on drugs, in order to stop the flow of money from the illicit drug market.

….10. That the United Nations should exercise its leadership, as is its mandate, in this effort and conduct deep reflection to analyze all available options, including regulatory or market measures, in order to establish a new paradigm that prevents the flow of resources to organized crime organizations.

Click the link to read the whole thing. The language is obviously cautious, but it seems clear that these three countries, which have suffered more than most from drug-related violence, would like to rethink the Single Convention in order to make the drug trade less lucrative. This might or might not go anywhere, but it’s certainly worth some attention from anyone who wants to see drug laws rationalized. Renegotiating the Single Convention won’t happen anytime soon, but it’s a necessary first step.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate