British entrepreneur and outspoken billionaire, Richard Branson claims that the United Nations is on the verge of calling for decriminalization of all drugs.
In a post on his Virgin website, titled “Finally—a change in course on drug policy,” Branson leaked an embargoed, unreleased statement from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), calling on governments to decriminalize drug use and possession for personal consumption of all drugs.
“My colleagues on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and I could not be more delighted, as I have stated in embargoed interviews for the likes of the BBC,” Branson wrote. “Together with countless other tireless advocates, I’ve for years argued that we should treat drug use as a health issue, not as a crime. While the vast majority of recreational drug users never experience any problems, people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell.”
Unfortunately, hours after Branson published his post, the BBC reported that the UNODC has withdrawn the paper after “pressure from at least one country.”
According to the BBC, the document was drawn up by Dr. Monica Beg, chief of the HIV/AIDs section of the UNODC in Vienna, and was prepared for an international reduction conference in Kuala Lumpur next month.
The UNODC says that the document was never sanctioned as policy; however, according to Business Insider, the UNODC is under pressure to make a statement on drug policy before the UN General Assembly convenes next April. Branson said he leaked the paper to hold the UNODC accountable.
“Let us hope the UNODC, a global organisation (sic) that is part of the UN and supposed to do what is right for the people of the world, does not do a remarkable volte-face at the last possible moment and bow to pressure by not going ahead with this important move,” Branson wrote. “The war on drugs has done too much damage to too many people already.”