Richard Branson, Kofi Annan, and Paul Volcker Call for End to Drug War


A larger-than-ever-before group of political and financial celebrities will petition the United Nations this week to refocus the globe-spanning war on drugs from "criminal justice towards a public health approach," reports the Guardian

Those backing the call include Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico; George Papandreou, former prime minister of Greece; César Gaviria, former president of Colombia; Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; George Shultz, former US secretary of state; Javier Solana, former EU high representative; Virgin tycoon Richard Branson; and Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve.

The global advocacy organisation Avaaz, which has nine million members, will present a petition in support of the commission's recommendations to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at Transform, the drug policy foundation that has consultative status with the UN, said current events, such as the cartel-related violence in Mexico, President Barack Obama's comments that it was "perfectly legitimate" to question whether the war on drugs was working, and the wider global economic crisis, had given calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the world's drugs policy a fresh impetus.

Volcker and others first petitioned the U.N. to end the drug war in 1998. The recipient of that letter is now a signatory: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

As Jacob Sullum recently pointed out, Obama isn't actually questioning the war on drugs–not even the war on medical marijuana. 

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  1. So, they’re advocating a shift from jailing drug users to forcing them into treatment programs…and I’m assuming they don’t actually call for legalizing the drug trade.

    Sorry, coercion is coercion.

    1. “Most of the below oppose prohibition, viewing it as a more disastrous repeat of the errors of alcohol Prohibition. Others simply call for major changes in the structure of the drug war, a conversion to what is generally called “harm reduction.””

      Do your fucking homework, bitch.

      1. Where did you get that quote? I don’t see it at either of the links regarding the current petition.

          1. Meh, fucked up the link but it’s the same as in the article.

          2. That’s the 1998 letter, not this one. Looks like you’re the bitch with the incomplete homework.

          3. Actually, that’s not even in the 1998 letter! It’s a sidebar on the DPR site listing friendly organizations, and none of the people listed in this blog post are among the “many of those below”.

            Fact check the log in your own eye…

            1. Yes you are right.

            2. Yes, you are correct.

              1. And I apologize for calling you a bitch.

                1. Apology accepted.

    2. Yeah, without legalizing the drug trade, you accomplish nothing. I get real tired of people talking about decriminalization and diversion to treatment as if that is some enlightened approach that will solve the problems of the drug war. What a bunch of crap. The problem is handing a large and lucrative industry over to violent criminals.

      1. There was a book several years ago tracing the history of American society & its efforts to control “immoral” behavior. The author made a lot of good points (& several dumb ones) but ended with a chapter on the WoD & how much it was costing us. His solution: instead of using the power of the state to coerce people to not do drugs, we should use “government money” to provide rehab for people. Because, you know, there’s no coercion involved in taxing people to heal other peoples’ addictions.

        But therein lies the public policy issue of decriminalizing or even legalizing. A lot of Americans might favor one or other of those approaches. But once the nightly news starts showing stories of people whose lives were ‘wrecked’ by drugs, the public will be demanding that we “do something” about it.

        1. There is almost no uncoerced demand for “drug treatment”. Particularly if there is a regular supply of cheap drugs. People with problems will die, cut back, switch quit on their own or with the assistance of 12 step or more specifically religious programs.
          High demand employees and the wealthy might avail themselves of more intensive treatment as a means of securing their financial or social status.

    3. “”Sorry, coercion is coercion.”‘

      I have to agree with Tulpa on this.

      Moving from jailing to mandatory treatment is bullshit. I don’t think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s still about not tolerating use.

  2. Who gives a fuck about Branson… Did the leggy blonde sign the petition?

    1. She is the petition.

      1. i’d sign that

          1. thanks for making my day, i didnt think anything would top the vid i posted in the cop thread

  3. And of course shifting the drug war from a criminal matter to a public health matter also means all those constitutional protections for accused criminals go out the window.

    1. Maybe it’s just because I don’t trust these assholes but I think you’re on to something with this.

    2. +1

  4. Whatever’s going on in that picture looks fun.

  5. Congratulations on picking a picture that would successfully get me to read this.
    Well played.

    1. Wow — I didn’t recognize Branson in the pic.

      I thought the photo was dug-up from some ’70s retro-cheese vault.

      1. Wow — I didn’t recognize Branson in the pic.

        Her name is Branson?

    2. Yeah, Volker’s lookin’ mighty fine in that photo.

      Seriously, Mr. Riggs, you need to learn the Way Of Alt-Text.

    3. If ever there was need for a an alt text….

  6. “criminal justice towards a public health approach,”

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. I mean, yeah, taking criminality out of drugs is certainly the good thing. But part of the reason drugs are criminalized is because of the public health angle.

    Look how modern governments treat public health issues now. They’re increasingly clamping down on the activities of their citizens, all in the name of “public health”.

    I suppose like everything else, there’s a right way and wrong way to go about this. We shall see. Not holding breath.

    1. I agree with your pessimism on this, Paul. When drugs are criminalized, they’re outside the system; you can do them–as long as you aren’t unlucky or stupid or a minority–completely free of state interference.

      If they’re a “public health” issue, there will be no end to the interference. None.

      1. Use of drugs is a sign of insanity. Therefore, treating users without due process is okay.

        1. “Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.”

          1. people who can’t handle their drugs usually drop them. look free drugs on the ground!

      2. Worse yet, any policies enacted in the name of “public health”, will most likely undermine any moral hazard associated with drug abuse. Anyone who’s life goes to shit, because they can’t handle their drug use responsibly, will be labeled as a victim, not an addict.

        The new government agency created to solve this problem, will need a massive budget, and broad regulatory powers to win the “War on Drug Abuse”.

        1. The new government agency created to solve this problem, will need a massive budget, and broad regulatory powers to win the “War on Drug Abuse”.

          Perhaps some sort of agency and set of laws to make it hard to get these dangerous drugs will be in order…

    2. “taking criminality out of drugs is certainly the good thing”

      Yes, but decrim and more “treatment” isn’t going to do that. It’s good to lock fewer people in jail for drugs, but the criminality problem isn’t going anywhere until the drug trade is legalized.

    3. OK, so they’re increasingly clamping down, but it took them a while to get there, so making it a public health issue at least buys some time.

  7. So to end the War on Drugs, a bunch of has-been politicians petitions…the UN?

    1. I think we finally found the issue that will cause us to stop funding and pull out of the UN.

    2. The UN is why drug prohibition is universal.

      See: Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

      Which is why (among other reasons) progressives will never support ending the WoDs.

      1. Something tells me that if the US ended prohibition tomorrow, that treaty would have all the sticking power of sanctions against a Middle East tyrant.

        1. IANAL but I think the treaty would prevent the US Congress from legalizing drugs at any time.

          1. The Single Convention’s penal provisions frequently begin with clauses such as “Subject to its constitutional limitations, each Party shall . . .” Thus, if a nation’s constitution prohibited instituting the criminal penalties called for by the Single Convention, those provisions would not be binding on that country.

            4 more Clarence Thomases could.

          2. We can denounce the treaty and get out of it. Would the Senate have to ratify a denunciation, or can the executive denounce unilaterally? One of you legal types needs to help me out here.

            1. Interesting question. There’s no real answer, as the USSC has never ruled on a President breaking a treaty. They declined to rule when George W. Bush pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. They also declined to rule when Carter unilaterally pulled out of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty.

              1. So the answer is that the President could pull out of the Single Convention unilaterally. But the USSC could strike it down and there’s no precedent to know what they’ll do. If we withdraw by an act of Congress or Constitutional, the treaty is null and void, as established in 112 U.S. 580 and Reid v. Covert.

  8. I think somebody’s been smoking the wacky tobacky! *dismissive laugh*

  9. Zombie Mengele likes this.

  10. if i were a billionaire, i’d get a girl that looks like that to dress in the same outfit and lean over me, although (probably) without the gun

    1. Strap-on dildo?

  11. Riggs is just a tool of Big Weiner.

  12. EOM

  13. The final link in this article requires admin permissions to view; could you please link the non-admin view version?

    1. What’s Jimmy doing hanging out with us slobs?

  14. Apparently only ex-politicians seeking some sort of last ditch attempt at fame before fading into obscurity are willing to oppose the jailing of people who possess politically disfavored plants and powders.

  15. Say, that’s a knight. I always pictured a knight having more swords, armor, and horses. And less kneeling before a woman while wearing spandex.

    1. But that knight is a gold medal Bavarian vagina jouster, and the traditional uniform of a Bavarian vagina jouster is spandex.

      Recently players have begun experimenting with being dipped in silicone rubber for increased aerodynamics, but Branson’s old school.

  16. Amazing how everyone seems to grow principles and a spine when they are officially out of power.

    1. Exactly.

  17. George Papandreou is the current prime minister of Greece unless I am mistaken.

  18. Is this one of those “once you are out of power you become a libertarian” proofs?

    It should be noted other proofs include the whole left libertarian phantom before the 2008 election and Bob Barr.

  19. You are not mistaken, he is the cureent prime minister of Greece

  20. In the last 100+ years, Corporate heavyweights created the drug war for pure profit, and social manipulators used it to enforce racial agendas. Specifically is the modern view that there is such a thing as “drugs”, as in a special collection of somehow innately “evil” substances that are “immoral ” to consume. It’s your birthright as a human on this earth to partake of what is created here. What’s immoral is to do harm to others. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got in your system if you decide to do something that harms other people. So the substances are irrelevant and the drug war is just a huge profit/power machine that’s out of control.

  21. What concerns me about decriminalizing it is, what happens with the underground economy? Millions depend on it, what will replace pot as a cash crop?

  22. If Kofi Anus is involved the whole enterprise is doomed to failure, after Kofi’s son steals millions of dollars.

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