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The War on Drugs:

Time to Count the Costs

The war on drugs creates massive costs, resulting from an enforcement-led approach that puts organised crime in control of the trade. It is time to count these costs and explore the alternatives, using the best available evidence, to deliver a safer, healthier and more just world.


The corruption and violence that accompany criminal drug production and trafficking are actively fuelling conflict and undermining development and security in some of the world's most vulnerable countries and regions

Rather than protect public health, the drug war has done the opposite, leading to the use of contaminated substances of unknown strength, encouraging high-risk methods of drug consumption and diverting resources away from proven public health interventions

Drug law enforcement has led to mass criminalisation and incarceration, and in some parts of the world involves arbitrary detention, torture, the denial of basic health services, and the illegal use of the death penalty

The drug war's negative impacts fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable, excluded and marginalised, including children and young people, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, women, and economically deprived populations of users and drug crop growers

The war on drugs has created a $300 billion-a-year illegal trade that generates organised crime, street crime, and increasingly horrific violence around the world

Illicit drug crop production is causing deforestation and pollution in some of the world’s most fragile and bio-diverse ecosystems. This is made worse by the aggressive use of toxic herbicides in aerial eradications

At a time of financial hardship across the globe, 100s of billions of dollars are being wasted on ineffectual or actively counterproductive drug law enforcement