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Is the United Nations About to Call for the Decriminalization of All Drugs?

Richard Branson just posted an embargoed document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that urges governments to ease off on the prosecution and imprisonment of drug users.

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Read: Once and for All, Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug

Richard Branson added another potential scene to his inevitable biopic this afternoon when he posted an embargoed document onto the Virgin website showing the UN may be on the verge of calling for a global decriminalization of drugs.

The document, titled "Decriminalisation of Drug Use and Possession for Personal Consumption," uses evidence-based study to assess the impact of drug decriminalization. It concludes: "Member States should consider the implementation of measures to promote the right to health and to reduce prison over-crowding, including by decriminalising drug-use and possession for personal consumption."

This is corroborated by evidence from Portugal, where decriminalization has reduced drug-related deaths and new HIV or hepatitis infections.

A statement attached to the document on the Virgin website outlines how the document was sent to a select few media companies including Virgin and the BBC, and how Branson decided to overlook the embargo in light of fears external pressure could lead to a last minute retraction of the UN's statement.

"As I'm writing this, I am hearing that at least one government is putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the UNODC [UN Office on Drugs and Crime]. Let us hope the UNODC, a global organisation 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. The war on drugs has done too much damage to too many people already," says Branson in the statement.

According to Branson, the paper was due for release yesterday at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Malaysia.