Bring your #drugpolicyreform to the United Nations!
The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem, taking place this April, is a meeting of the UN member states to discuss drug control, assess the effectiveness of current efforts to control drugs, and debate opportunities for reform. The most recent UNGASS on drugs, held in 1998, boasted the slogan “A Drug Free World -- We Can Do It!” and set goals for drastic reduction in drug supply and demand through criminalization, eradication, and military interventions in producer and transit countries.
Nearly two decades later, these strategies have not only failed to reduce drug supply and demand, but they have resulted in more dangerous drug markets, vastly detrimental rates of incarceration, and wide-ranging human rights abuses.
We can do better. Countries the world over are rejecting the old paradigm and recognizing that a health-based approach founded in scientific evidence, compassion, and respect for human rights results in healthier and safer communities.
President Obama and his Administration have made substantial reforms to America’s approach to drugs by offering clemency to certain non-violent drug offenders, reducing or eliminating mandatory minimums, and developing a drug control strategy and budget that slightly emphasizes treatment over incarceration.
Sign our petition to ask President Obama to represent his bold vision for a more humane drug policy at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session!
The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem represents an unprecedented opportunity to cement your commitment to transforming our criminal approach to drugs and ineffective reliance on mass incarceration.
Abundant evidence has demonstrated that excessive reliance on criminalization does not reduce drug use or control drug markets. Your Administration has responded to that evidence by proactively requesting clemency applications, shifting mandatory minimums, and ensuring our national drug control strategy prioritizes treatment over criminalizing individual drug users.
However, the United States has long held a leading voice in the global approach to drug control which emphasizes criminalization and punishment of drug users. Today, many governments around the globe use draconian measures in drug control, from long prison sentences to capital punishment. It is time for the United States to lead with an approach that reflects your vision of a 21st century drug policy as articulated on the White House’s drug policy website:
"emphasizing prevention and access to treatment over incarceration, pursuing 'smart on crime' rather than 'tough on crime' approaches to drug-related offenses, and support for early health interventions designed to break the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and re-arrest."
The UNGASS represents an opportunity to shift the focus of global drug control, but without a strongly articulated vision for change, it is likely that the UNGASS and its outcome document will result in more of the same: a failed approach to drug control that leads to mass incarceration and violations of basic human rights. It is time to emphasize the focus on scientific evidence and health-based approaches that already exist within the current treaties and prioritization of human rights contained within the mandate of the United Nations.
We urge you to personally attend the Special Session and deliver the US plenary address, where you and the US delegation should advocate for a health-based approach founded in scientific evidence, compassion, and respect for human rights.
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