The global War on Drugs has been a long, sustained, incredibly expensive and destructive failure. A major new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy says: it's time to give it up.

The report, out today, is not by some liberal fringe group. It is by a group of world leaders (lots of former presidents), written in preparation for the UN's special session on drugs, scheduled for 2016. It amounts to a very high level admission that treating drugs as a criminal problem has definitively proven to be a failed strategy. From the report's executive summary:

The Global Commission proposes five pathways to improve the global drug policy regime. After putting people's health and safety at the center of the picture, governments are urged to ensure access to essential medicines and pain control. The Commissioners call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of users together with targeted prevention, harm reduction and treatment strategies for dependent users.

In order to reduce drug related harms and undermine the power and profits of organized crime, the Commission recommends that governments regulate drug markets and adapt their enforcement strategies to target the most violent and disruptive criminal groups rather than punish low level players. The Global Commission's proposals are complimentary and comprehensive. They call on governments to rethink the problem, do what can and should be done immediately, and not to shy away from the transformative potential of regulation.

Decriminalize and regulate drugs, and treat their negative effects as a health problem. This is the substance of this commission's recommendations. How is this for a breath of fresh air? "Stop criminalizing people for drug use and possession – and stop imposing "compulsory treatment" on people whose only offense is drug use or possession." Words like that coming from any body remotely connected to a government come as a pleasant shock to Americans raised in the "Just Say No" era.

Decriminalize and regulate drugs. Focus on getting drug users out of the criminal justice system and putting an end to the military-style government drug war. What an abundantly good common sense idea.

Someone send this report to the Congress of the United States of America, please.

[Photo: AP]