It doesn't stop at drug poisoning. Over the last decade, at least 3,940 people have been executed, many for non-violent drug offences with 33 countries retaining the death penalty for drug crimes. And that's just official state executions: The IDPC estimates there have been 27,000 extrajudicial killings in drug crackdowns. Many of these have been carried out by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose tactic of killing drug users and dealers without trial has been praised by President Trump. (Trump once told Duterte he was doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem.") One in five prisoners in the world’s jails are inside for drug offences. In some Latin American countries and Thailand, over 80 percent of women in jail are serving sentences for drug-related offences.This is exactly why the IDPC's 136-page report is so alarming, not only in terms of the sheer numbers of people who have been driven into addiction and crime, but because drug policy is consistently being used to punish the most socially excluded and vulnerable people on the planet.
It’s time to do away with the myths and hyperbole so often used when talking about drugs.
In his 1989 book Intoxication, the American pharmacologist Ronald K Siegel concluded that after the basic human desires of hunger, thirst, and sex comes a "fourth drive," an instinctive urge to change our ordinary state of awareness. The act of entering into an altered state is a fascinating human realm. But drug use is not just personal: the drugs we use and how we use them reflect our societies. Drug use is the litmus paper not only for how a society wants to feel but how it deals with transgression.
If those who use drugs continue to be treated as criminals before they are seen as people, the need for open, honest reporting on this subject is paramount.