Billionaire entrepreneur and drug decriminalization advocate Richard Branson made headlines this week when he leaked a UN document that convincingly argued for legalizing drugs.
In a blog post entitled “Finally – a change in course on drug policy,” Branson said:
“In an as-yet unreleased statement circulated to the BBC, myself and others, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which has shaped much of global drug policy for decades, call on governments around the world to decriminalise drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs. This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of millions of drug users around the world. The UNODC document was due to be launched at the International Harm reduction conference in Malaysia yesterday.”
However, the United Nations who has been a long-time supporter and enforcer of prohibition is already backpedaling on the statement, saying that the document which was intended to be discussed at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, is not the official position of the United Nations, although elements within the organization did draft the document.
“The briefing paper on decriminalisation mentioned in many of today’s media reports, and intended for dissemination and discussion at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, is neither a final nor formal document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy.
It remains under review and UNODC regrets that, on this occasion, there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper. UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document. But, it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready. Overall, UNODC remains committed to the balanced approach that, in particular, promotes alternatives to incarceration in line with international human rights standards.”
The paper argued that drug legalization or decriminalization would actually help to prevent the spread of infectious disease. This position is supported by many international health workers, and even some employees of the UN, but the organization will not seem to accept anything but prohibition as their official policy, at least for now.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.
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