Business and World Leaders Urge the UN to Decriminalize All Drugs

Lead image by Rebecca Bowring

A coalition of business leaders, scientists, and former presidents have called for all drugs to be decriminalized during a press conference criticizing the United Nations’ latest drug policy agreement.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy held a press conference this week to address the UN’s recent global agreement on illegal drugs, which recommended continuing a prohibition-based approach. The agreement was signed after a debate on international drug policies requested by Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala. These three countries have suffered extreme violence from drug cartels controlling drug supplies to the U.S.

“So far, the solutions [to control drugs and crime] implemented by the international community have been frankly insufficient,” Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto said. “We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention.” Other countries with extreme anti-drug policies argued for continuing current laws prohibiting drug use. A delegate from Indonesia called his country’s use of the death penalty for drug users “an important component” of the country’s drug laws.

The UN’s new agreement on global drug policy called for maintaining the current set of laws prohibiting drug trade. The agreement did not criticize nations using the death penalty or other extreme measures taken against drug users. Members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, including former U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, and former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, said that this agreement has failed to improve international narcotics policy.

Virgin Group head Richard Branson said that it might “already be too late” to reform global drug laws, adding that “the process was fatally flawed from the beginning.” Former Colombian president César Gaviria Trujillo said that the UN’s goal of a “society free of drug abuse” was “unrealistic, totally naive, almost stupid.” Trujillo said that the idea “that we are going to live in a world free of drugs, which will never happen,” is “totally stupid” and “unreachable.”

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