|Photo: Russia Beyond The Headlines
|Russian Drug Czar Viktor Ivanov: Calls for legalization are “a propaganda campaign promoting the use of narcotics”
The head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service on Friday criticized this week’s call for legalizing marijuana as “a propaganda campaign promoting the use of narcotics.”
Drug Czar Viktor Ivanov was responding to a 24-page report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which suggested on Thursday that governments should consider legalizing some drugs such as marijuana to curb global drug trafficking, since the decades-old “global war on drugs has failed.”
“We have to realize that we are dealing with a global propaganda of illicit drugs here,” Ivanov claimed, reports RIA Novosti.
“This propaganda campaign is linked to the huge profits [from sales of illicit drugs]that are estimated at about $800 billion annually,” he said.
Ivanov claimed that Russia had already gone through what he called the “sad” experience of temporarily legalizing drugs containing codeine, an opiate used for its painkilling, anti-cough, and anti-diarrheal properties.
Ivanov said Russians annually consume about six metric tons of codeine, which he said has “essentially has the same properties as heroin.” He claimed the demand for codeine is growing exponentially.
Codeine-related drugs will be sold only by prescription in Russia starting in November, following orders by President Dmitry Medvedev.
There are about 2.5 million “drug addicts” and more than 5.1 million drug users in Russia, according to United Nations data.
President Medvedev ordered in April that proposals be drafted that would introduce mandatory medical treatment as an alternative to prison time for drug addicts.
The 19-member independent Global Commission on Drug Policy was created in January with its goal to “bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.”
It includes prominent international figures such as previous U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and the former presidents of Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, who set up a similar commission for Latin American in 2008.