“End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others” Primary recommendation of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

I met David Caruana at a café a few months ago primarily for the reason that we share similar political beliefs, one of them being the war on drugs. There are many instances where we disagreed including on this issue. While for example, he prefers the Dutch model of legalizing cannabis, I find the Portuguese model of decriminalizing the personal use of drugs much more attractive.

One of the things struck me about David is the honesty and passion with which he discusses the issue – the kind that many politicians try to imitate but never seem to get right.

While I had assumed he probably had smoked some weed, when he told me he had a pending case on the cultivation of two cannabis plants I was shocked. Shocked, not because the person in front of me was arduous enough to go beyond cultivating tomatoes and basil, but because I knew that in Malta’s criminal code, cultivating cannabis is the equivalent of trafficking. Even if the intent of that cultivation is nothing more than personal consumption, which I know is the case here.

This came at a time when I was researching about the issue which included reading the document quoted above

http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/Report

 

Together with other literature, this document doesn’t consider drugs of whatever kind as ideal and healthy. Far from that. However it highlights how much the war on drugs has not only failed but become an added problem. When President Nixon declared the “war on drugs” it was assumed that within a few years the supply of drugs would be eradicated, globally. Unfortunately, thanks to the lack of a parallel “war on corruption” the supply of drugs not only wasn’t curbed but multiplied, reaching alarming levels Nixon could have never even predicted.

Thus the war changed. The Pablo Escobars around the world had no intention of quitting their trade, thus they bribed themselves our of it (At one point in time Escobar managed to bribe 2/3 of the Colombian parliament to change the country’s constitution so as not to permit his extradition to the US).

Helpless in front of these kingpins, a new enemy had to be found. The enemy was drug users, couriers and cultivators.* David Caruana is one of them.

I wasn’t just shocked when David told me about his pending case but also angry. Seriously angry because I knew that the main reason he will be prosecuted as a criminal with an effective prison sentence very likely is nothing more than a charade to cover up for people with Swiss accounts and villas in the Cayman islands. The ones who are pumping up the white or brown powder that’s driving an increasing number of Maltese people insane, have them commit crimes they would have never thought they’ll commit and die a premature death.

David Caruana is neither the first, nor will be the last victim of this senseless war on drug users. He is the first to go public and use his situation to highlight the faults in our system though. And for that he’s definitely got my full admiration.

*I still agree that those who carry or cultivate drugs for the consumption of others should be considered as committing a criminal offense. However, as the Global Commission report suggests the extremely harsh sentences these people are punished with is nothing more than a need to find a scapegoat.

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