UN Drugs Office Denies It Will Recommend Decriminalization of Narcotics

The leak of a document purporting to mark an historic shift in U.N. policy on the decriminalization of narcotics caused a stir Monday, but the U.N. drugs organization said the paper had been mischaracterized and was merely a discussion document.

British billionaire Richard Branson triggered the kerfuffle by leaking a U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) “briefing paper” recommending that governments around the world consider “decriminalizing drug use and possession for personal consumption.”

The paper, which was due to be presented at an international drug policy conference underway in Malaysia, stated that “decriminalizing drug use and possession for personal consumption is consistent with international drug control conventions and may be required to meet obligations under international human rights law.”

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