INCB President Raymond Yans

The United Nations has attacked moves towards liberalizing drug laws in its annual narcotics control report, arguing such measures would have grave social and economic costs without significantly undermining organized crime.

In the latest International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report, the UN strongly condemned measures legalizing marijuana and attacked the arguments put forward by advocates for drug law reform.

The board argues that legalizing drugs will not significantly impact the revenues of organized crime groups, as such organizations have demonstrated a capacity to make money off legal products such as black market cigarettes.

It also stated that the cost savings of no longer enforcing drug laws would not be significant as an increase in drug use would lead to more social problems requiring the intervention of law enforcement, giving as an example the fact that millions of people a year are arrested for alcohol related crimes.

The report also claims that the economic costs of healthcare related to drug use and the costs of regulating the industry may outweigh savings in other areas and income from tax revenues.

The board particularly criticized moves in the United States and Uruguay to legalize marijuana, with President Raymond Yans calling it "a grave danger to public health and well-being."

In the report, it cites "emerging data" from Colorado, which shows that since the introduction of a medical marijuana program, car accidents involving marijuana, teenagers seeking treatment for marijuana, and people testing positive for marijuana on drug tests have all increased.

InSight Crime Analysis

Some of the arguments offered by the INCB stand as a warning to those that argue for drug legalization as a "magic bullet" solution to issues caused by drugs and the drug trade. However, this does not mean they successfully dismantle the case for legalization.

For example, it is undoubtedly true that legalizing the drug trade will not make organized crime disappear, as criminal organizations have long demonstrated an ability to adapt and diversify revenue streams. However, by removing their main source of income, the stranglehold of these groups on certain countries will be loosened and their power to corrupt through their vast wealth would be seriously undermined.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Drug Policy

Other arguments made by the board are far more debatable. For example, the cost of alcohol related policing is directly related to the effects of alcohol and to argue that abuse of completely different drugs would cause similar types of crime is highly dubious. It also seems a false comparison to claim the increase in costs of policing drug abuse would cancel out the savings from ending efforts to tackle drug trafficking, as it is comparing local, street level policing to transnational, high-tech, billion dollar interdiction efforts.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...