Today is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has released a new report encouraging people to stay healthy by abstaining from drug use. The report expounds more on the dangers of drugs and the necessity of discouraging their use, emphasizing in particular the risks presented by the plethora of new synthetic drugs now available. Less is known about the effects of these, the UNDOC notes, which leads to a higher risk of dangerous side effects or overdose.
While the UNODC’s attempts to promote world health are admirable, the UNODC’s abstinence-only approach to drugs is dangerous. While SSDP neither condones nor condemns drug use, we do promote sensible drug policy—which the UNODC has failed to present. Instead, the report recycles old assertions about the dangers of drugs and the same tired, restrictive policy suggestions. This rhetoric fails to reduce the stagnant rates of drug use among teenagers while the policies only increase the demand for the new “designer” drugs the UNODC is so concerned about. The abuse, overdose, and criminal activity associated with drug use can only be resolved with sound drug policy. This is what SSDP has asked the UN to do as an NGO with special consultive status, and what SSDP continues to work for.