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420 with CNW — International Report Says Drug War Compromises Efforts to Attain Environmental Justice, Fight Climate Change

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An international coalition of advocacy groups has released a report outlining how the global war against drugs has compromised efforts to deal with the climate crisis and accelerated the environmental destruction of crucial ecosystems across the world. While the initial days of the drug war are long gone, especially in nations such as the United States, Canada and Australia, which are now embracing drug reform, its harmful effects are still felt in many facets of society.

One of the most dire results of the drug war was almost unparalleled growth in the illicit drug market that has significantly contributed to global organized criminal activity and impacted the environment in a myriad of harmful ways. This includes mind-boggling levels of water theft by the illicit cannabis industry and significant environmental damage by fertilizers, pesticides, fuels and all kinds of waste.

The International Coalition on Drug Policy Reform and Environmental Justice is comprised of artists, activists, academics and advocates from the environmental and drug-policy reform movements. The coalition published a 63-page report stating that its efforts to protect tropical forests across the globe will likely fail as long as climate change and environmental activists continue to ignore how global drug prohibition has impacted environmental justice.

With the world actively working to mitigate climate change amid increasing instances of disrupted and extreme weather, protecting tropical forests is crucial to mitigating global warming. Tropical forests are prolific carbon sinks and are estimated to store around 46% of all living terrestrial carbon in the world as well as around 11.55% of the globe’s soil carbon pool.

The report called drug policy the missing link in delivering proper climate justice, stating that prohibitionist drug policies have pushed illicit drug production and trafficking into key ecosystems such as the jungles in Southeast Asia as well as the Amazon.

Players in the illicit drug market cultivate drug crops and traffic illicit drugs through tropical forests because law enforcement puts them in that position, the report said. In cases where the cultivation of drug plants such as opium, coca and cannabis is legal and regulated by governments, cultivation almost always occurs in traditional agricultural settings.

Furthermore, the report noted that the money earned from illicit drug operations often funds further criminal activity that harms the environment, such as the illicit trade of tropical timber, wildlife, minerals, precious metals such as gold, archeological artifacts and even human trafficking. The drug war continues a cycle of persecution and poverty against the most vulnerable people in society, the report said, pushing them into the illicit drug trade as a means of desperate survival.

The report estimates that around 200,000 Colombian families currently make a living from growing coca as the financial benefits it offers supersedes persecution from the military and police. Furthermore, the drug war often incarcerates lower-level players such as farmers who often lose their livelihoods while top players face no consequences.

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