NEW YORK, 9 May 2014 (IRIN) - Easing up on drug prohibition will not solve the plight of the thousands of people displaced by the drug wars in Colombia, Mexico and other countries.

12 May 2014

Many detect the beginnings of a global policy shift in the war on drugs, with the realization that a greater focus on those who consume them, rather than endless - and fruitless - crackdowns on those who supply drugs might yield more positive results. However, this will not solve the myriad harms that the drug wars have wrought: the existence of established networks of traffickers and cartels willing and eager to trade in other, if less profitable, contraband; the erosion of state structures and a climate of law and order; and not least, the plight of thousands of people who have fled their land, homes and jobs to avoid the violence. 

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In a paper entitled Addressing the Costs of Prohibition: Internally Displaced Populations on Colombia and Mexico, in the London School of Economics IDEAS International Drug Policy report, Ending the Drug Wars, released this week, Laura Atuesta Becerra argues that while “much of the current discourse about reversing the damage caused by the war on drugs centers on issues of consumption and treatment, it must be recognized that these changes will have limited impacts in countries such as Mexico and Colombia which suffer systemic illicit drug-related violence, homicides and IDPs [internally displaced persons]”. Trying to repatriate the thousands of displaced people is another cost of the policy of prohibition, she argues, that has yet to be reckoned with.

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