Richard Branson

Global Commission on Drug Policy 'Profoundly Disappointed' With UN

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The Global Commission on Drug Policy on Thursday announced it is "profoundly disappointed" with the adopted outcome document agreed at the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on "the world drug problem." According to Commissioners, the document does not acknowledge the comprehensive failure of the current drug control regime to reduce drug supply and demand.

"Nor does the outcome document account for the damaging effects of outdated policies on violence and corruption as well as on population health, human rights and wellbeing," the statement from the Commission reads. "By reaffirming that the three international conventions are the 'cornerstone of global drug policy,' the document sustains an unacceptable and outdated legal status quo."

"UNGASS has not seriously addressed the critical flaws of international drug policy," the statement reads. "It does not call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. It does not urge states to abolish capital punishment for drug-related offences. It does not call on the World Health Organization (WHO) to revisit the scheduling system of drugs. It does not advocate for harm reduction and treatment strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness. Finally it does not offer proposals to regulate drugs and put governments – rather than criminals – in control.

Global: World Leaders Call For Decriminalization and Regulation of Drugs

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Former Presidents of Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland together with Sir Richard Branson, US Former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker and members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy call for reducing the harms caused by failed drug policy

On Thursday, April 21 – the last day of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – several members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy will hold a press conference in New York. The Global Commission will evaluate the outcome of the UN meeting and call for concrete steps to ensure more effective drug policy reform in the years ahead.

The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such gathering of governments in 18 years.

"Globally, we’re wasting too much money and precious resources on criminalizing people and sending them to jail when we should be spending this money on helping people - through proper medical care and education,” said Global Commission Member Sir Richard Branson. “From the perspective of an investor, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were one of my businesses, I would have shut it down many many years ago."

Global: Leaders Call For Decriminalization, Regulation Of Drugs During Historic UN Session

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On Thursday April 21 – the last day of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – several members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy will hold a press conference in New York. The Global Commission will evaluate the outcome of the UN meeting and call for concrete steps to ensure more effective drug policy reform in the years ahead. The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such gathering of governments in 18 years.

"Globally, we’re wasting too much money and precious resources on criminalizing people and sending them to jail when we should be spending this money on helping people - through proper medical care and education,” said Global Commission Member Sir Richard Branson. “From the perspective of an investor, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were one of my businesses, I would have shut it down many many years ago."

Commissioner and former President of Switzerland, Ruth Dreifuss also notes that "many countries are already successfully adopting innovative harm reduction and treatment strategies such as needle exchange, substitution therapies, heroin prescription and safe consumption rooms.” She adds that “for these efforts to be truly effective, governments must decriminalize the use of drugs for personal use.”

Global: More Than 1,000 Leaders Issue Worldwide Call For End To Disastrous Drug War

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“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,” Letter Says

On the eve of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, world leaders and activists have signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

The unprecedented list of signatories includes a range of people from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, Barry Diller, actors Michael Douglas and Woody Harrelson, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, singers John Legend and Mary J. Blige, activists Reverend Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and Michelle Alexander, as well as distinguished legislators, cabinet ministers, and former UN officials.

“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century,” the letter says, “has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights. Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.

Global: Leaders Call Upcoming UN Session 'Historic Opportunity' To End Failed War On Drugs

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A bold public statement was released on Friday by the Global Commission on Drug Policy stating that “an historic opportunity to achieve more humane and effective drug policy is at risk.” The Commission is referring to the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs -- a meeting of all UN member states to evaluate the current state of international drug control.

The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such meeting in 18 years.

"We are driven by a sense of urgency,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission. “There is widespread acknowledgment that the current system is not working, but also recognition that change is both necessary and achievable.

"We are convinced that the 2016 UNGASS is an historic opportunity to discuss the shortcomings of the drug control regime and identify workable alternatives," Cardoso said.

The Global Commission onFriday called the proposed outcome document for UNGASS (currently being negotiated in Vienna) “long on rhetoric, but short on substance” with “no hard solutions.” The Commission also urges governments to put “people’s health, safety and human rights first.” According to the statement, this includes:

• Ending the criminalization and incarceration of drug users;
• Abolishing capital punishment for drug-related offences;

Global: Religious Leaders Urge UN To Stand By Call For Decriminalization of Drugs

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The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) is urging the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to stand by their call for decriminalization of drug use and possession in the United States and around the world.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession, according to DPA Honorary Board Member Richard Branson -- but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew its briefing paper under pressure from at least one country, according to the BBC.

“Locking up people for non-violent drug use is inhumane, immoral and ineffective, said Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. “At the center of SDPC’s thrust is our belief that there needs to be greater emphasis on policies that focus on Harm Reduction over criminalization.”

SDPC, an interdenominational network of African American congregations, clergy and lay leaders is actively engaged in organizing multifaith activities for the upcoming 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on global drug policy.

In a recent meeting with a multifaith group of leaders in early October, SDPC outlined a working paper to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in April, 2016. That paper argues for a shift in the ideology and practice in the United States concerning drug use and possession.

Global: Leaked UN Paper Calls For Decriminalizing Drug Use and Possession

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Drug Decriminalization Rapidly Emerging as Consensus Goal of Drug Policy, Public Safety and Health Stakeholders as 2016 UN Special Session on Drugs Approaches

Momentum Accelerating in the U.S. and Abroad Toward Drug Policy Reforms: Marijuana Legalization, Drug Decriminalization, and Ending Mass Incarceration

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession, according to DPA Honorary Board Member Richard Branson – but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew a briefing paper under pressure from at least one country, reports Mark Easton at the BBC.

“On the one hand it’s promising that such a powerful statement strongly affirming the need to decriminalize drug use and possession made it this far in the UN process – that in itself represents a dramatic evolution from previous decades when any talk of decriminalization was studiously suppressed,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It reflects both growing support for decriminalization in Europe and Latin America as well as the insistence of UN health, development and human rights agencies that drug control policies adhere to international conventions in those areas as well.”

U.S.: 'Safety First' Book Offers Parents' Guide To Legalization, Drug Education

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New Bilingual Editions of Seminal Safety First Publication Offer Pragmatic Drug Education Strategies, with New Sections on Adolescent Brain Development and Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana legalization is raising fresh questions – and many age-old ones – for parents and others who play important roles in the lives of teenagers.

On Thursday, December 4, the Drug Policy Alliance is releasing new, updated English- and Spanish-language editions of the seminal publication, Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs by Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD. Safety First has provided hundreds of thousands of parents with the tools needed to foster open and honest dialogue with their children around the risks and consequences of drug use.

DPA is planning to reach many more parents and educators in light of the nationwide momentum in favor of marijuana legalization and other drug policy reforms.

California: Richard Branson, Lt. Gov. Newsom, and SF DA Gascon To Discuss Failed War On Drugs

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Event will feature special screening of Film Breaking the Taboo

Film Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Features Interviews with Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter Former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Sweden, Victims of Drug War, Leading Experts and Advocates

Sundog Pictures will be holding a special screening of its groundbreaking documentary Breaking the Taboo, about the failed War On Drugs, in San Francisco. The screening will be held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, March 25 at the New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco.

The special screening will be followed by a panel discussion from 6:15 until 7 pm about opportunities to help people convicted of drug offenses get back on the right path and reduce the burden that drug convictions place on American prison systems. The discussion will feature Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, Laura Thomas of the Drug Policy Alliance and Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

Uruguay: Sting and Richard Branson Accused of Using Nation as 'Laboratory' For Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sting and Sir Richard Branson have been accused of using Uruguay as a "laboratory" for marijuana legalization after backing a campaign to regulate cannabis in the South American nation.

Uruguay looks to be a sure bet to become the first nation in the world the fully legalize marijuana, reports Tom Gardner at the Daily Mail. The changes were set into motion after a campaign by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), for which Sting and Branson are honorary international board members.

The involvement of the America-based drug law reform organization is being branded "meddling" by the Uruguayan opposition to cannabis legalization, who are attempting to inculcate a backlash against the planned changes.

Gerardo Amarilla of the opposition National Party accused the two celebrities of risking the health of Uruguayans with their "meddling," and turning the entire country into a "laboratory" for reform. "They should be meddling in Uruguay," Amarilla said.

"They should be lobbying in their own country because they're not going to suffer the consequences here, the security and health problems," Amarilla said, ignoring the fact that both men actually do lobby in their own country for drug reform.

U.S.: Superstars To President Obama: Let's Tackle Drug Policy and Mass Incarceration

(Photo: Kulture Kritic)Powerful Group Urges New Approaches to Failed Drug War, Move from Criminal Justice Toward Public Health Approach

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A coalition of over 175 artists, actors, athletes, elected officials and advocates, brought together by hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins, on Tuesday presented an open letter to President Obama, urging him to double down on his efforts to change the United States’ criminal justice policy from that of a punitive, suppression-based model to one that favors evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation.

According to Department of Justice data, the U.S. leads the world in the incarceration of its own citizens, both on a per capita basis and in terms of total prison population. More than 500,000 of the 2.3 million people behind bars in the U.S. are incarcerated for nothing more than a nonviolent drug offense.

“It is critical that we change both the way we think about drug laws in this country and how we generate positive solutions that leave a lasting impact on rebuilding our communities,” Russell Simmons said. “We need to break the school to prison pipeline, support and educate our younger generations and provide them with a path that doesn’t leave them disenfranchised with limited options.”

U.K.: Drugs inquiry to hear evidence from Richard Branson

Virgin boss will recommend decriminalising drug use when he appears before MPs' committee

By Alan Travis, guardian.co.uk
Photograph by Startraks/Rex Features

There is a truth that must be heard! The Virgin group head, Sir Richard Branson, is to appear in person to argue the case for decriminalising drug use at the start of a Commons home affairs committee inquiry.

Branson is to give evidence to MPs next Tuesday alongside Ruth Dreifuss, the former president of Switzerland, who served with him on the Global Commission on Drugs Policy. The commission's report, published last year, declared that the war on drugs had failed and recommended introducing a regulated legal supply of cannabis and possibly other drugs.

MPs will also take evidence from the UK Drug Policy Commission, a thinktank headed by Dame Ruth Runciman. They are expected to visit South America, including Colombia, during the course of their inquiry.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said he was looking forward to hearing from Branson and Dreifuss about the global commission's view that the war on drugs had failed and it was time to decriminalise drugs.

"Drugs can be a hugely controversial issue but we hope that this will be the start of a balanced, well-reasoned inquiry," said Vaz.


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/19/drugs-inquiry-evidence-ri...

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