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Drug Use Is Not a Crime in This One Country

Entrepreneur and drug policy reform activist leaked a United Nations paper calling for decriminalizing drug use. The paper argued that treating personal drug use as a crime “contributed to public health problems and induced negative consequences for safety, security, and human rights.”

The news made international waves, especially after the U.N. — bowing to the objections of a mysterious force (very likely one of the stars and stripes variety) — retracted the statement. This backtracking and censorship is unnerving. But the paper does represent a significant shift and the mainstreaming of a policy once considered radical that is now embraced by major human rights organizations and public health officials.

Nearly two dozen countries — including parts of the United States — have taken steps towards decriminalization by removing criminal penalties for low-level possession of some or all drugs. Most recently, the Irish government took steps...

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