The WHO really buried the lede in a recent report on HIV. Regarding transmission of the virus, the WHO recommended on page 91 of a 113 page report that countries should consider decriminalizing drugs that require injection as well as other drugs. The simultaneous effect of such policies would be reduced rates of incarceration and likely decline in transmission of HIV via the use of used needles.

It appears that the WHO is taking a more common sense approach than, err, itself and other countries take. To be more precise, the UN, of which the WHO is a part, outlined in 1988 its present drug policy of criminalization. So what happens if an organization within an organization begins telling itself it's wrong? Well we will have to let the future decide that for us, but it sure is a positive step.

Decriminalization and legalization are often conflated by people who do not understand how these things work (see: politicians). The problem in the rudimentary understanding our elected officials, and most people who elect them, employ is that a simple DRUGS = BAD approach does not take into account any extraneous variables. The WHO understands that one of the worst extraneous variables in the mix is HIV transmission, and they want our officials to see beyond the immediate effect of drug use, and look to the much more harmful effect drug use has on society. People still use drugs, and America's war on drugs is a great example of criminalization gone wrong. We ought not punish people for what they put into their body by choice. Rather, we ought to educate and rehabilitate. I have to stand behind the WHO on this one: Decriminalization is a great first step into the future.

*The article on the Economist website I got this from is linked here.

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**The WHO report is here.