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Medical experts call for global drug decriminalisation

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First published on http://www.theguardian.com

An international commission of medical experts is calling for global drug decriminalisation, arguing that current policies lead to violence, deaths and the spread of disease, harming health and human rights.

The commission, set up by the Lancet medical journal and Johns Hopkins University in the United States, finds that tough drugs laws have caused misery, failed to curb drug use, fuelled violent crime and spread the epidemics of HIV and hepatitis C through unsafe injecting.

Publishing its report on the eve of a special session of the United Nations devoted to illegal narcotics, it urges a complete reversal of the repressive policies imposed by most governments.

“The goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs is the basis of many of our national drug laws, but these policies are based on ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded,” says Dr Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a member of the commission.

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