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United Nations Orders Security To Confiscate Copies Of Open Letter Calling For End To Global Drug War


no drug watOn the opening day of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) gathered more than 60 performers dressed in costumes from the era of U.S. alcohol prohibition to greet attendees at the entrance to the United Nations and hand them copies of the “Post-Prohibition Times,” a newspaper printout of a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

UN Security was apparently ordered to confiscate the letter, and attendees were ordered to hand over their copies upon entering the building. According to a number of participants in the UN Special Session, they were told that the document was not allowed in the building. “As we were walking into the metal detectors right at the entrance, the security were confiscating it from people,” said Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, Policy and Advocacy Manager for Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Ms. Ginsberg continued, “I went back to ask the security guard why, and he said he got he’d gotten orders from the UN to specifically take the newspapers. He said he was just following orders.”

“That’s an extraordinary and deeply disturbing response by UN officials,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “The pamphlet obviously presented no threat to security.  All it threatened was the status quo of the global drug war.”

The unprecedented list of signatories includes a range of people from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, Barry Diller, actors Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda, 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.

“It’s alarming that the United Nations would have so little regard for freedom of speech, and opted to disrupt this important message from getting to its intended audience, which is the delegates participating in this historic discussion,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “People across the globe have had their lives destroyed by the horrors of the drug war. The world is watching and it is a shame for the UN to stifle an urgent intervention in the debate.”

The UN Special Session, which takes place April 19-21, is the first of its kind since 1998, when the UN’s illusory but official slogan was “A drug-free world – we can do it!”  The upcoming UNGASS was proposed in late 2012 by the Mexican government, with strong support from other Latin American governments.  Last year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a strong call-to-action, urging governments “to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options.”  The public letter to him was prompted in part by the obstacles to such debate within the confines of the United Nations.

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

[Links below to photos from today’s action]


ABOUT THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human right

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. They have money for submarines – that means they can wage war against any country including the United States. That competitor is against the welfare of everyone else and should be dealt with as if they were the hidden arm of the Axis.

  2. Nominate the Indonesians to head the global drug war – they just changed their law post-Bali-9 that the drug smugglers should EAT their own cargo.

    You like it so much, YOU eat it. Every person, every family destroyed by drugs that you brought in – you should get to share in their right to CHOOSE to poison their bodies and cancel their future and permanently impair their health.

  3. michael_ellis on

    The astounding success of the marriage equality movement is something we should study carefully to see what tactics can be applied toward ending prohibition. We don’t have the powerfully sympathetic case of being denied the right to marry the person you love; moreover SCOTUS has shown a repeated willingness to eviscerate 1st and 4th amendment protections to facilitate drug law enforcement. Read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” for a stomach-turning look at just how badly constitutional protections have been eroded.

    I also agree with your ‘follow the money’ observation. No one, (ok maybe a few televangelists) had any significant financial interest in denying marriage licenses to LGBT people.

    Perhaps the biggest difference is that gay folks were willing to come out and put it on the line to make a change. The weed users with jobs and kids — not so much. Too much to lose and too easy to just keep quiet and toke up in private.

  4. saynotohypocrisy on

    I think the people who say follow the money are looking in the right direction. That might be the difference between this and gay marriage, it’s worth spending a lot of money to various special interests if it keeps medical and adult use weed illegal.
    Despite their noxious resistance, the prohibs are expected to have a very bad Election Day 2016. I wouldn’t be too disheartened.

  5. I have become increasingly demoralized about how the movement to legalize a safe and effective plant seems to be stalling. What is it about this issue that is so hard for our “rulers” to understand? It almost seems that somehow it strikes a chord in people (and makes their ability to reason blank out) when gay marriage is now legal. I thought when that happened, the next insanity, cannabis prohibition, would also be put behind us. This is the 21st century, not the middle ages!!!

  6. Hi gotohell,

    you said:

    “It’s mostly lefties who hate free speech, so I probably shouldn’t find this too surprising.”

    Are you sure this isn’t a typo? Didn’t you mean “righties”?

  7. saynotohypocrisy on

    Since the structure doesn’t apply to killers alcohol and tobacco, it certainly doesn’t need to be applied to weed. As far as ‘hard’ drugs go, the structure has miserably failed in its mission, it has backfired horribly, causing more more harm than good, much of that harm directed at totally innocent people. The structure needs to change its mission from prohibiting ‘hard’ drugs to suitably regulating them to produce as much harm reduction as possible. But the will to do that just isn’t there, even among most of the overwhelming majority of people in this country who regard the ‘war on drugs’ as a failure.

  8. saynotohypocrisy on

    Awww, did a little dose of science hurt the little babies’ feelings?
    More proof that we’re bad people, we deliberately go around hurting the feelings of bambinos.

  9. While the farce still stands we will never see true freedom, but the structure is, unfortunately, kind of necessary for order’s sake.

  10. saynotohypocrisy on

    They showed their true colors for everyone to see. People will be citing this for years to come as evidence of where the UN is coming from on drugs. It should be publicized and condemned, but I’m happy about it even if the mass media ignores it. I think our international enemies just made a nice own goal.

  11. saynotohypocrisy on

    On drugs, the UN bureaucracy and many UN members are hard right. And for any lefties that do love the UN (not sure how many of them there are, after all the UN’s failures), this should be a wake up call.

  12. saynotohypocrisy on

    What a wonderful metaphor the UN thugs have given us for their stinking war. The Emperor Has No Clothes, and now he’s reduced to burning the books that are spreading the news.

  13. michael_ellis on

    Truly appalling and almost unbelievable. It’s one thing for them to ignore the evidence but quite another to confiscate printed copies of it. This is worthy of some serious protest.

  14. You are so wrong hater. Anti drug lies are why we have to stop this right now. There are two sides to a lie and three things that can happen.
    He tells the lie and either I say nothing and he goes on. I can say something and he may think about it. If enough people inform him the right way. It may make a change. Change? I’m not telling him what he can use. Hes taking from my truth. My life. And the lie that lives. 3 things that can happen he keeps lies . He tells and convinces others. It stops he learns the truth and becomes a better person ies and suppression of free speech is a Republican move. Who benefits from the drug war. Not the PEOPLE
    big business. Prison systems. The po po.
    you like the way the republicans have weakened this country. Prison for profits. poisonous phamacueticals. The environment
    poisoned for profits by weakening the
    E PA . GMO plant freaks. Food that makes you fat and sick. Cancer is so common these days the hospital can’t stop building.You like the party of money and all that greed that inspires sickness. The deDemocrats are guilty of trying to be like rep. And letting the rep. Do what they did.

  15. The great irony? It’s mostly people on the left who love the UN. It’s mostly lefties who hate free speech, so I probably shouldn’t find this too surprising.

  16. It’s pretty obvious that the UN is deeply scared of seeing the death of marijuana prohibition in the coming years; no matter how much they deny it with their reefer madness mentality and no matter how much they cling to their precious status quo, it ‘will’ be inevitable and the truth will prevail.

    Screw their orders; do what’s right.

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