Low-level drug offences should be decriminalised in West Africa, according to a high-level report.
The West Africa Commission on Drugs says drug cartels are undermining the region by using it to transit cocaine.
The commission, headed by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, says the cartels should be tackled but that punishing the personal use of drugs does not work.
It argues that current policies incite corruption and provoke violence.
Drug trafficking and consumption have become major issues in West Africa since the turn of the century.
Efforts around this time to stem the flow of cocaine from the producing countries of Latin America to consumers in the US and Europe led criminals to target West Africa as a new route.
Dramatic events like the crash landing of a Boeing 727 full of cocaine in Mali in 2009 have alerted the authorities to the problem.
The new report, commissioned by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, estimates that the annual trade in cocaine alone through West Africa is now worth $1.25bn (£744m) - more than the total of foreign direct investment in the region.
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27786845