On the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 26 June, the Global Commission on Drug Policy launched a report “Classification of Psychoactive Substances: When Science was Left Behind“. This GCDP ninth report analyses the history, procedures and inconsistencies of the current classification of psychoactive substances.
In the report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy explains how the biased historical classification of psychoactive substances has contributed to the “world drug problem”. It is the first-ever comprehensive report providing a political reading of the current evaluation and classification, or “scheduling” of drugs according to their harms. “The current distinction between legal and illegal substances is not unequivocally based on pharmacological research but in large part on historical and cultural precedents. It is also distorted by and feeds into morally charged perceptions about a presumed “good and evil” distinction between legal and illegal drugs.”
Psychoactive substances should be classified with regard to their potential for dependence and other harms. This is not the case today, where some substances are legally available because they are considered beneficial (medicines) or culturally important (alcohol), while others are seen as destructive, and are strictly prohibited. The classification of drugs is at the core of the international drug control system. As such, governments must ensure that such a classification is pragmatic and based on science and evidence, makes clear the benefits and harms of drugs, and allows for responsible legal regulatory models to control drugs.
Ruth Dreiffus, chair of the organization and a former president of Switzerland, wrote in the foreword: “…this classification or ‘scheduling’ of drugs is the cornerstone of the current repressive approach to drug policy, which has resulted in the ‘collateral damage’ of the ‘war on drugs—tragic consequences that the Global Commission on Drug Policy has condemned since its founding in 2011. The effects of prohibition—in terms of public health and security, discrimination and prison overcrowding, the rise in power of criminal organizations and the associated violence and corruption, as well as the lack of access to essential medicines—highlight the urgent need to change course and implement policies that are more effective and more respectful of human rights.”
To read full report, follow this link>>>