Global: Blumenauer Says UN Drug Policy Should Be More Just and Compassionate

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) this week joined leaders from around the world in New York at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. Rep. Blumenauer attended the opening day’s events as a Congressional observer.

“There is no better time than now for world leaders to gather to reevaluate international drug policy," Blumenauer said. "The War on Drugs has failed. Instead of escalating the horrific violence of this war, we need a more just and compassionate approach that focuses on public health and harm reduction, rather than punishing drug users.

“I was encouraged to hear a number of countries leading the charge for a different approach, in particular from those countries that have changed or are considering changing their policies surrounding the treatment of marijuana," Blumenauer said. "It was also very promising to hear Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, representing a nation that has experienced horrific violence as a result of the War on Drugs, announce his support for legalizing medical marijuana in Mexico and a call to change a paradigm of prohibitionism that has not yielded results.

“I’m disappointed the United States hasn’t been more of a voice on reform this week," Blumenauer said. "Mr. Botticelli’s statements on behalf of the United States were right in acknowledging the importance of a public health approach, but he didn’t go far enough to embrace a true change of direction by the United States. It was a missed opportunity.

"The United States should be paving the way, helping to move the world even further toward a better approach than the failed War on Drugs," Blumenauer said. "We should modify the federal treatment of marijuana to reflect the changes in state laws and the will of the majority of the American people.

“This international discussion has been illuminating," Blumenauer said. "I come back to Washington, DC even more committed this Congress and Administration, and the next, to be a voice of reform on the international stage.

"Our goal should be to put an end to mindless military action and hard-edged policies that have proven to fail," Blumenauer said. "We need to replace them with policies focused on harm reduction and effective regulation as tools.”

Ahead of this week’s UNGASS, Representative Blumenauer joined more than 1,000 leaders in calling for an end to the failed War On Drugs. He also recently led members of the U.S. House of Representatives in calling on President Obama to use the Special Session as an opportunity to highlight the importance of a less punitive and more public health-centered approach to international drug policy.

Photo: Rep. Earl Blumenauer/Twitter