Media Silent as US Announces Unprecedented Move to End Drug War

March 15, 2016   |   Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish
March 15, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) Slipping by virtually unnoticed, the United States made a surprising move last week toward entirely ending the contentious and wholly ineffective War on Drugs.

With the approach of the first Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly to discuss international drug policy in nearly 18 years, Bill Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, discussed the potential for an historic shift in U.S. drug policy with a panel on March 8th.

Seeking to return to a “greater focus on public health and healthcare as relates to the drug issue, rehabilitation, treatment, [and] education,” Brownfield described what will be “a pragmatic approach to reform … global drug policy.”

Despite the moniker Land of the Free, the U.S. recently fell under intense criticism after a number of reports noted the country houses the largest prison population on the planet — a fact President Obama reluctantly admitted last summer.

Should it follow through with decriminalization as Brownfield described, the U.S. government would be marking the first effort to weaken the now-massive prison-industrial machine — including the controversial, corrupt, private prison corporations that now dominate the criminal justice landscape.

“We will call for pragmatic and concrete criminal justice reform, areas such as alternatives to incarceration or drug courts, or sentencing reform,” Brownfield explained. “In other words, as President Obama has said many times publicly, to decriminalize much of basic behavior in drug consumption in order to focus scarce law enforcement resources on the greater challenge of the large transnational criminal organizations.

“We will propose greater focus on what we call new psychoactive substances. These are the new drugs … which in the 21st century the pharmaceutical industry can produce at a faster rate than governments or … the United Nations system can actually review and register.”

Asked whether countries deciding to move in the direction of Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in a massive, successful effort to combat addiction, would be penalized for breaking established international narcotics guidelines, Brownfield stated the issue would not be for the U.S. government to decide. He explained wholesale reform of drug policy couldn’t possibly be applied in a one-size-fits-all format, as individual countries are dealing with problems specific to their needs.

As an example, Brownfield pointed to cannabis policy in the U.S.

“It is the position of the United States government, for example, that despite the fact that four of our states have voted to legalize the cultivation, production, sale, purchase, and consumption of cannabis, or marijuana, that we are still in compliance with our treaty obligations, because first, the federal law, national law, still proscribes and prohibits marijuana; and second, because the objective, as asserted by the states themselves, is still to reduce the harm caused by consumption [of] marijuana.

“Our argument is that at the end of the day, the issue is not precisely whether a government has chosen to decriminalize or not to decriminalize; it is whether the government is still working cooperatively to reduce the harm caused by the product.”

Several times, Brownfield emphasized the necessity for policy reform to hold to international narcotics conventions, but he also expressed optimism that “experimentation, adjustment, and modification” of policy would nonetheless be allowable.

Drug policy experts, activists, and countless others have decried the Drug War’s criminalization in reference to treatment of what is largely viewed as an epidemic of addiction.

“The world is a different place in 2016 than it was in 1959 or 1960,” Brownfield noted. “So, of course, policy changes. Opinions change. Focus and priority changes.”

Set to take place around five weeks from now, if the Ambassador’s plans are well-received, the UNGASS might produce the most positive reforms to now-anachronistic drug policies since they were imposed decades ago.

“At the end of the day, dangerous drugs are a danger to anyone — right or left; Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere; developing, developed; industrial, agrarian — it doesn’t matter. The harm is the same on the human being,” Brownfield asserted. “But we must process it through the realities of our planet today.”


This article (Media Silent as US Announces Unprecedented Move to End Drug War) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include thwarting war propaganda through education, the refugee crisis & related issues, 1st Amendment concerns, ending police brutality, and general government & corporate accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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52 Comments

  1. ★★★★★★★★★★★

    ᴍʏ Fʀɪᴇɴᴅ's ᴍᴏᴍ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs $73 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ . Sʜᴇ ʜᴀs ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏғ ᴀ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ 7 ᴍᴏɴᴛʜs ʙᴜᴛ ʟᴀsᴛ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ᴡᴀs $20864 ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ғᴏʀ ᴀ ғᴇᴡ ʜᴏᴜʀs.

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  2. 20 grand at 73 per hour.. equals what, 250-300 hours? How is it that she works 'just a couple of hours' but it's more like 60-70 hours a week? CHECK YOUR MATH, SCAMMER!

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  3. We all recognize that this prohibition enriches the barbarous cartels south of our borders who have killed in excess of 100,000 individuals, mostly innocents, driving tens of thousands of mostly youngsters to the US seeking shelter from the horrendous violence only to be sent back to their home countries and a looming death sentence. This everlasting war on plant products gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who prowl our neighborhoods with high powered weapons, selling contaminated drugs to our children, enticing them to lives of crime and addiction. We have ever increasing numbers of overdose deaths and truth be told, despite the arrest of more than 50 million US citizens for drugs and the expenditure of well over a trillion US tax payer dollars, we have never managed to prevent even one child from getting their hands on their drug of choice.

    So I ask, what do we derive from this policy that even begins to offset the horror we inflict on ourselves and the whole world by continuing to believe in this prohibition? What is the benefit of drug war?

    The only way to stop the frenzy, the madness, is to destroy the $300 billion dollar a year black market via regulation and state control. (Decrim still leaves terrorists, cartels and gangs in control of pricing, purity and selling contaminated drugs to our children, time to grow up and face facts.)

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  4. In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

    The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

    Post a Reply
  5. In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

    The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

    Post a Reply
  6. In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

    The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

    Post a Reply
  7. In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

    The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

    Post a Reply
  8. In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

    The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

    Post a Reply
  9. Alcohal Companies and Pharmaceuticals et al; are sending their lobbiests to derail any decriminalization legislation, and releasing prisoners from the commercial prison system needs to be addressed

    Post a Reply
  10. I think i know your friends mom, could you ask him to get his mom to call me? Something she needs to know about that weekend in Vermont….

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  11. Unprecedented move to end the drug war? That's a big assumptive leap based on the content of the article meant to substantiate such a claim.

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  12. Prohibition of marijuana is built upon a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on the highways alone.

    Consider the Federal Census stats on yearly driving fatalities state by state, from 1990 to 2009. All states have seen their death rates drop, but on average, those with medical marijuana laws posted declines 12% larger than the non-medical states. Vehicles with airbags must have helped as well, without affecting the disproportion between the 'legal states' and those 'not yet, in 2009'.

    In 2012, a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as "the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving".

    Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana actually encourages brain-cell growth. Studies in Spain and other countries have discovered that it has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. “Cannabis” in Latin, and “kaneh bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair.

    What gets to me are the politicians who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but can’t face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis.

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  13. "… We will never stop building prisons until we stop mandatory minimums …"
    —me

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  14. "… We will never stop building prisons until we stop mandatory minimums …"
    —me

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  15. So you hit then where it hurts. their profit centres. Legalise ALL drugs AND supply them free to anyone who registers as an addict. this will deflect from crime those who only commit crime to support their habit, and wrestles the market away from those who most profit from it, the gangs…

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  16. Wayne Strawbridge Agreed with the exception of registration. Fuck that I'll pay fair and square and keep me off that list!

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  17. Don't forget that CIA,get their funds
    trafficking drugs,is bigger cartel on the world !!!!!!!!!!!

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  18. ┣┫Е┗┗ O
    ======== ?ᴍʏ Fʀɪᴇɴᴅ's ᴍᴏᴍ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs $73 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ . Sʜᴇ ʜᴀs ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏғ ᴀ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ 7 ᴍᴏɴᴛʜs ʙᴜᴛ ʟᴀsᴛ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʜᴇʀ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ᴡᴀs $20864 ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ғᴏʀ ᴀ ғᴇᴡ ʜᴏᴜʀs.

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  19. Yes Wes, but if you were a heroin or meth addict that couldn't live without it but couldn't afford it, instead of turning to crime you can retain SOME of your dignity and register as an addict and get your addiction fed for free all the while getting the help to be free of it! It has to cost less that the cost of crime, the decrease in producivity and the cost of prison!? It also means that the main worker ants for the gangs, (the addicts), are no longer tied to the gangs and because there is no profit in drugs that they will do something else instead.

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  20. Those in power in the U.S. will never willingly end the selective drug prohibition! To think so is pure fantasy!
    The tyranny will only end when they have all been removed from power! They must all be removed from power!
    robertsrevolution.net

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  21. nazi rayguns started this insane crusade based on ignorance, and fear. It has ruined more lives than it has helped, by far, and bankrupted at least one state in the process. Good ridence to both nazi, and her pet.

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  22. I j­­­u­­­s­­­t g­­­o­­­t p­­­a­­­i­­­d $­­­6­­­7­­­8­­­4 w­­­o­­­r­­­k­­­i­­­n­­­g o­­­f­­­f m­­­y l­­­a­­­p­­­t­­­o­­­p t­­­h­­­i­­­s m­­­o­­­n­­­t­­­h. A­­­n­­­d i­­­f y­­­o­­­u t­­­h­­­i­­­n­­­k t­­­h­­­a­­­t­­­'­­­s c­­­o­­­o­­­l, ­­­m­­­y d­­­i­­­v­­­o­­­r­­­c­­­e­­­d f­­­r­­­i­­­e­­­n­­­d h­­­a­­­s t­­­w­­­i­­­n t­­­o­­­d­­­d­­­le­­­r­­­s a­­­n­­­d m­­­a­­­d­­­e o­­­v­­­e­­­r $­­­9­­­k h­­­e­­­r f­­­i­­­r­­­s­­­t m­­­o­­­n­­­t­­­h. I­­­t f­­­e­­­e­­­l­­­s s­­­o g­­­o­­­o­­­d­­­ m­­­a­­­k­­­i­­­n­­­g s­­­o m­­­u­­­c­­­h m­­­o­­­n­­­e­­­y w­­­h­­­e­­­n o­­­t­­­h­­­e­­­r p­­­e­­­o­­­ple h­­­a­­­v­­­e t­­­o w­­­o­­­r­­­k f­­­o­­­r s­­­o m­­­u­­­c­­­h l­­­e­­­s­­­s. T­­­h­­­i­­­s i­­­s w­­­h­­­a­­­t I­­­ d­­­o­­­,

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  23. Vices are not Crimes, never have been, never will be. A lie is a lie.

    "Vices Are Not Crimes

    A Vindication Of Moral Liberty

    I.

    Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

    Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

    Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

    In vices, the very essence of crime — that is, the design to injure the person or property of another — is wanting.

    It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

    Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

    For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth."

    Read more! https://web.archive.org/web/20150103015740/http://www.lysanderspooner.org/VicesAreNotCrimes.htm

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  24. Drug prohibition has provoked exactly the same disasters as alcohol did, with the added crime of preventing cancer cures from being marketed.

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  25. Wayne Strawbridge Free? Ok, you work in the greenhouse 24/7 and process and package it and pay rent on the space and then give it all away for free. So, how ya gonna live? Welfare?

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  26. But, Billy … if the title better reflected the article, I would have never clicked on the link to read it.

    Post a Reply
  27. The drug war was never going to work in the first place. Every time the government figured out a way as to how drugs were getting across the border, cartels had already figured out another 20 different ways to get it here without detection and were coming up with even more. The only way to stop it is to take away their clientele by legalization. Why would anybody but weed from drug lords when you can grow your own? There are medical conditions which cannot be corrected or contained by pharmaceuticals, yet a natural organic plant, assuming that it is grown and harvested that way, provides relief to so many men, women and children all over the world. Who would've thought right? Colorado has made millions after legalization all while watching their crime rate go down, and they just didn't sit there with all that money, they invested it into their school systems and law enforcement to educate the people about it and for cops to regulate it. People with Crohns, seizures, depression, insomnia, among millions of other conditions, have all had positive effects from using Marijuana, oh, AND IT KILLS CANCER CELLS. Why would you continuously take pills manufactured by some company in a lab where people can just as easily make mistakes while producing it, or handling it or packaging it before being sent off for human consumption when you can use a medicinal NATURAL PLANT for your needs. This is supposed to be a free country, so why don't we get to choose what it is that we put into our bodies for our diseases and conditions? Pharmaceuticals will never go away, we all get an occassional headache we take pain relievers for, just used as an example as there are many other reasons I don't feel like typing because I'll be here all day, but should be allowed to choose. After a long, hard day at work many people go home and have a beer, we all know the kinds of effects alcohol can have on someone, why is it illegal for someone to use marijuana instead? Marijuana is only dangerous because people will kill other people to take the money they make from it, or for the marijuana to sell for themselves. Legalization fixes more than You can ever imagine.

    Post a Reply
  28. The drug war was never going to work in the first place. Every time the government figured out a way as to how drugs were getting across the border, cartels had already figured out another 20 different ways to get it here without detection and were coming up with even more. The only way to stop it is to take away their clientele by legalization. Why would anybody but weed from drug lords when you can grow your own? There are medical conditions which cannot be corrected or contained by pharmaceuticals, yet a natural organic plant, assuming that it is grown and harvested that way, provides relief to so many men, women and children all over the world. Who would've thought right? Colorado has made millions after legalization all while watching their crime rate go down, and they just didn't sit there with all that money, they invested it into their school systems and law enforcement to educate the people about it and for cops to regulate it. People with Crohns, seizures, depression, insomnia, among millions of other conditions, have all had positive effects from using Marijuana, oh, AND IT KILLS CANCER CELLS. Why would you continuously take pills manufactured by some company in a lab where people can just as easily make mistakes while producing it, or handling it or packaging it before being sent off for human consumption when you can use a medicinal NATURAL PLANT for your needs. This is supposed to be a free country, so why don't we get to choose what it is that we put into our bodies for our diseases and conditions? Pharmaceuticals will never go away, we all get an occassional headache we take pain relievers for, just used as an example as there are many other reasons I don't feel like typing because I'll be here all day, but should be allowed to choose. After a long, hard day at work many people go home and have a beer, we all know the kinds of effects alcohol can have on someone, why is it illegal for someone to use marijuana instead? Marijuana is only dangerous because people will kill other people to take the money they make from it, or for the marijuana to sell for themselves. Legalization fixes more than You can ever imagine.

    Post a Reply
  29. The drug war was never going to work in the first place. Every time the government figured out a way as to how drugs were getting across the border, cartels had already figured out another 20 different ways to get it here without detection and were coming up with even more. The only way to stop it is to take away their clientele by legalization. Why would anybody but weed from drug lords when you can grow your own? There are medical conditions which cannot be corrected or contained by pharmaceuticals, yet a natural organic plant, assuming that it is grown and harvested that way, provides relief to so many men, women and children all over the world. Who would've thought right? Colorado has made millions after legalization all while watching their crime rate go down, and they just didn't sit there with all that money, they invested it into their school systems and law enforcement to educate the people about it and for cops to regulate it. People with Crohns, seizures, depression, insomnia, among millions of other conditions, have all had positive effects from using Marijuana, oh, AND IT KILLS CANCER CELLS. Why would you continuously take pills manufactured by some company in a lab where people can just as easily make mistakes while producing it, or handling it or packaging it before being sent off for human consumption when you can use a medicinal NATURAL PLANT for your needs. This is supposed to be a free country, so why don't we get to choose what it is that we put into our bodies for our diseases and conditions? Pharmaceuticals will never go away, we all get an occassional headache we take pain relievers for, just used as an example as there are many other reasons I don't feel like typing because I'll be here all day, but should be allowed to choose. After a long, hard day at work many people go home and have a beer, we all know the kinds of effects alcohol can have on someone, why is it illegal for someone to use marijuana instead? Marijuana is only dangerous because people will kill other people to take the money they make from it, or for the marijuana to sell for themselves. Legalization fixes more than You can ever imagine.

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  30. Wayne Strawbridge ..well then shouldn't we also consider alcoholism, let's give them free alcohol and force them to register as an addict. Sounds fair to me ..

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  31. Just legalize it ,keep big pharmaceutical companies out of any use ,distribution, or control. My state considers me a MMP/MMC. but the federal government STILL consider me a criminal. I'm 65 my husband is 73 . We either have to buy from a legal grower or grow our own . The growers have us by our wallets we can NOT afford to buy on a consistent basis ,, around 3 to 400 a month. We would have to give up much of our life style and that's ridiculous . NOW we have the government, big pharmaceutical companies, legal growers / marketers doing their best to stop me BECAUSE THEY ALL LOSE if I win . We're FORCED to use physical disability and disorders, I can call my doctor and an hour later pick up a prescription for Narcotics and opiates and live with all those drug interactions. RUSH LIMBAUGHED. or we can grow cannabis and enjoy our retirement that we were both worked hard to have ..it'd be nice if the BANKERS WOULD JUST STOP TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO CONTROL & ROB ME .

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  32. I think social media and big $$$$$ too large to ignore are 2 of the reasons times are changing. We have known cannabis is more hurt than harm ( no I.Q. Required ) Someone has and will continue to profit but by end of March every one round that table has their money in. Wishin everyone Wellness.

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  33. The Doobie Brothers L.P. – What were once Vices are now Habits. Is a reall good album. I do understand it's the word association thing with me some days.

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  34. All for Profit & Power. No wonder some of us keep acting APE hole ISH ( other A-hole word getting old ) they know now that we know, word is spreading to those a bit older that have never puffed. Those are now asking questions. Leaders of most countries B.S.ed there people about cannabis. Shame

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  35. Nice dream, keep greedy out ? They first in because they don't pay for meds or legal outta their own pocket. If is legal for them to invest it should legal for us. And in Canada, Canadians should have the first option to invest before Any other deal stroked. It may never be over but the arrests must stop NOW for simple possession. How do we teach our children DO not BE a BULLY when it's all around us ? Those bullies seem to be the ones getting ahead, things must change or ?????

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  36. conservatives don't care. they're in the private prison business, which needs these inmates to make a profit.

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