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Leaked UN paper calls for ‘global drug decriminalisation’

The (now withdrawn) document shows that some UN officials are heavily pushing for drug legalisation

A UN document calling for the global decriminalisation of all drugs and narcotics was leaked yesterday – though the BBC has since revealed that it was without the organisation’s official backing. 

The original paper – put together by Dr. Monica Beg, a departmental chief within the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – recommended that member nations should start thinking about “decriminalising drug and possession for personal consumption.” 

“Treating drug use for non-medical purposes and possession for personal consumption as criminal offences has contributed to public health problems,” the document claims. “(It has) induced negative consequences for safety, security, and human rights.”

It also argued that “arrest and incarceration are disproportionate measures”.

The proposal was unfortunately withdrawn after pressure by at least one UN member country – but it still shows that drug decriminalisation is being discussed where it matters. The document talks in depth about the very real benefits of drug legalisation, and suggests that low-level dealing – as well as personal possession and use – should not be considered as a crime.

“Small drug related offenses, such as drug dealing to maintain personal drug use or to survive in a very marginalized environment, could be interpreted as drug related offenses of a 'minor nature', as mentioned in the international drug control conventions,” the report reads. “These cases should receive rehabilitation opportunities, social support and care, and not punishment.”

While the document is currently without official organisational backing, there is still a chance that the topic will be more widely discussed, with formal policy still a (distant) possibility.