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22:54 GMT +3 hours22 December 2014
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Russia slams calls for legalizing illicit drugs

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Russia's Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov criticized on Friday a recent call for legalizing some illicit drugs as "a propaganda campaign promoting the use of narcotics."

Russia's Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov criticized on Friday a recent call for legalizing some illicit drugs as "a propaganda campaign promoting the use of narcotics."

A 24-page report by the so-called Global Commission on Drug Policy suggested on Thursday that governments should consider legalizing some drugs such as marijuana to curb global drug trafficking as the decades-old "global war on drugs has failed."

Some media mistakenly took the report by the commission as an official view of the United Nations.

"We have to realize that we are dealing with a global propaganda of illicit drugs here," Ivanov said.

"This propaganda campaign is linked to the huge profits [from sales of illicit drugs] that are estimated at about $800 billion annually," he said.

The official added that Russia had already gone through the "sad" experience of temporarily legalizing drugs, especially those that contain codeine, an opiate used for its analgesic, anti-cough, and anti-diarrheal properties.

Ivanov said Russians annually consume about six metric tons of codeine, which essentially has the same properties as heroin, and the demand for this drug is growing exponentially.

Following orders by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, codeine-related drugs will be sold only by prescription starting November this year.

According to UN data, there are 2.5 million drug addicts and more than 5.1 million drug users in Russia. Medvedev ordered in April that proposals be drafted that would introduce mandatory medical treatment as an alternative to penal measures against drug addicts.

The 19-member independent commission on drug policies was created in January 2011 with the 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 the previous UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and the former presidents of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Cesar Gaviria, who set up a similar commission for Latin America in 2008.

MOSCOW, June 3 (RIA Novosti)