For 28 years, June 26 has been considered the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking by the United Nations. It’s stated mission is to “strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.” While this day has been used to promote a prohibitionary agenda in the past, last Friday, 150 cities came together to demand an end to the War on Drugs, brandishing signs that said “Support. Don’t Punish.”
“In an effort to change the discourse on drug policy, the International Drug Policy Consortium has organized a global advocacy campaign that has grown from 41 participating cities in 2013 to 150 taking action,” the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) reported.
In New York City, groups rallied outside of the U.N. headquarters. In Washington, D.C., supporters marched from the State Department to the White House, demanding action from the Obama administration.
“The purpose of ‘Support, Don’t Punish’ is not only to spread global awareness about the failures of prohibition, but to demand that world leaders place human rights at the forefront of any conversation around global drug trafficking,” Jake Agliata, regional outreach coordinator for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, told The Weed Blog. “Executing people for nonviolent drug offenses is not acceptable, and the State Department should take steps to ensure that our tax dollars never contribute to this archaic practice.”
Friday also marked the release of the 2015 World Drug Report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which unsurprisingly showed no progress in the drug war. The UNODC noted there was “little change in the overall global situation regarding the production, use and health consequences of illicit drugs”—unintentionally highlighting how prohibition has failed.
“In anticipation of the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on drugs (UNGASS) in 2016, we are at a strategic and important time of momentum building so that when government officials and policy makers come together in New York next year our message is clear,” the DPA wrote. “The drug war has failed. Reform, support, and don’t punish.”