The United Nations drug agency is on the brink of calling for the complete decriminalisation of the use and possession of all drugs.
That's according to Sir Richard Branson, who appears to have leaked an as-yet unpublished report for fear the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will be pressured by world governments into burying its conclusions.
In a post on the Virgin website, Sir Richard says the report - "a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of millions of drug users around the world" - was due to be released at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Malaysia yesterday.
Sir Richard, who is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said he was "delighted" with the move towards drug use being treated as a health issue, not a criminal one.
He goes on to write:
Yet, in their zeal for chasing the illusion of a drug-free world, governments have poured billions into tough law enforcement that did nothing to reduce drug supply or demand, or take control from the criminal organisations in charge of the global drug trade. In the US alone, over 1.5 million people were arrested in 2014 on non-violent drug charges, 83 per cent of those solely for possession. Globally, more than one in five people sentenced to prison are sentenced for drug offences.
He claims that one unnamed government is putting an "inordinate amount of pressure" on UNODC to repress the report, which has been issued to some media organisations under embargo:
Let us hope the UNODC, a global organisation that is part of the UN and supposed to do what is right for the people of the world, does not do a remarkable volte-face at the last possible moment and bow to pressure by not going ahead with this important move. The war on drugs has done too much damage to too many people already.