The War on Drugs is Out of Control

November 5, 2011

Speakers of the opening session of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference call to end the war on drugs

The film crew of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is attending the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, California. We filmed the speeches of the opening session where not only activists but politicians (Democrats and Republicans alike) declared a war on the failed war on drugs.


Gavin Newsome, California Lieutenant Governor said the 40 years old war on drugs is an abrupt failure and it is inexcusable and unacceptable that there are more than 2 million people behind bars in the US. He called for stronger leadership and louder voice to end the war.

Garry Johnson Former New Mexico Governor said that as President, he would establish a process for expediting pardons for those hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been convicted under federal law for nonviolent marijuana offenses, saying, “As President I believe pardoning those convicted under federal law would encourage the governors of the fifty states to likewise make it possible for a lot of good people to erase the blot of marijuana offenses from their records for state offenses.”

Pete White, Co-Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network said the war on drugs is "failed our communities but it was a smashing success for those in power".

Alice Huffman President of the California NAACP told the story how she was converted to a drug policy reformer.

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the DPA said that this is a multigenerational struggle: there is no Berlin Wall for drug policy reform. However, the fall of the Soviet Union reminds us that the inconceivable can happen. An example is that today people like Jesse Jackson link arm with drug policy reformers. He said DEA agents and prosecutors, the most anti-reform people in America "are out of control". They demonstrate that governments can do evil even in a democratic society. He pointed out that drug reformers are often labeled as people who want to use drugs freely - and there is some truth in it, but there are drug reformers who hate drugs and still realized that the war on drugs is not the answer. "We are the people who love and hate drugs," he said. Mr. Nadelmann expressed his frustration over the reluctance of the Obama administration to show a strong leadership in ending the war.

posted by Peter Sarosi