A global change in drug policy is likely coming in 2016.
For many decades, the UN has been a major obstacle for legalization movement, as the UN Single Convention On Narcotics is used as an excuse to block referendum results and ignore the will of the people in many countries, and many countries were penalized for defying the UN on this issue. It's been clear that at total change had to happen everywhere in order to happen anywhere.
The UN 'consensus' process that feeds into that has been dominated by well funded lobbyists for prohibition industry, so change at the UN level has been very difficult to achieve, even though the United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime (UNODC) has admitted the war on drugs has made virtually every problem worse, as pointed out in the very definitive briefing given by 'Count The Costs' .
Major problems caused by drug prohibition identified in the briefing, admitted to by UNODC, include:
- The creation of a lucrative and violent illicit drug market
- The redirection of scarce resources from proven health interventions to punitive law enforcement
- The “balloon effect”, whereby enforcement efforts in one area simply displace drug production and/or drug markets to another area, rather than eliminating them
- The displacement of drug consumption from one substance to another, sometimes more risky alternative
- The stigmatization and marginalization of people who use drugs, which in turn reduces their likelihood of receiving treatment when they need it
Now, the pressure for change within the UN process has gotten too loud to ignore, and according to many sources, including Virgin CEO, member of the UN Global Commission On Drugs and long time legalization advocate Richard Branson, we may see an official UN consensus favoring decriminalization come out of the 2016 'UN Special Session On The World Drug Problem', whcih runs April 19-21. But we need to show pressure for change, in advance of the conferences and during.
4/20 2016 may be the most significant 4/20 event in it's history.
A major change at the UN level would enable countries to legalize without the threat of UN sanctions, threats to 'aid', etc., that are used to bully less powerful countries while the US, Russia, etc. are often able to ignore international law because the penalties never effect them.
Officials in powerful countries usually refer to international law only as an occasional excuse for ignoring the expressed will of the public, like when US officials referred to the UN Single Convention on Narcotics as their excuse for ignoring state referendum results and the Liberals used the same angle to break a campaign promise to decriminalize cannabis after winning the 2004 election.
If enough people push the various related bodies within the United Nations, from as many countries as possible, with letter campaigns, marches at UN offices where possible, and everything else, especially in the lead up to the UN Special Session on Drugs coming up in April 2016, it's possible that change can come at the international level very soon, which would lead to a collapse of the war on drugs almost overnight.
One of the things I learned when I first became involved in the UN consultation process is that the United Nations is not so much an ally or an opponent, it is an arena where countless voices are heard and the end results are often conflicting and contradictory, for example the World Health Organization's call for decriminalization squaring off against UNODOC's steadfast support for prohibition.
The UN process ultimately takes on the charactar of the people who are involved.
Many people who oppose UN policies fail to understand this, and as result, don't contribute their voice to the process, and so their voice isn't heard within the process and the resulting policies don't reflect their point of view.
To prevent a major opportunity for global change to happen all at once from slipping away, leaders and organizors of every faction within the legalization movement need to begin strategizing and mobilizing as soon as possible to make sure that the voice against prohibition becomes the loudest.