Call on Obama to Support Change in UN Drug Policy

January 31, 2009 – Last February, I was among 70 North American delegates at the UN NGO consultation on drug policy in Vancouver. Representing NORML, I called for an end to the criminalization of cannabis users. The overwhelming consensus of the conference was that current policies are excessively punitive, and should be revised in the direction of harm reduction. This conclusion was admirably reflected in the official report of the conference.

Unfortunately, the US delegation to the UN has strongly opposed our position, adopting the hard-line prohibitionist stance of the Bush Administration. The UN will be meeting in Vienna this March to decide on the shape of drug policy for the next decade. Unfortunately, the US delegation remains in the control of holdover Bushie hardliners. It is essential that President Obama give new instructions to the US delegation to follow the line of many other advanced countries in moving towards harm reduction, as urged in a New York Times editorial yesterday.

Please take the time to urge Obama to direct the US to abandon the bankrupt zero-tolerance stance of his predecessor and adopt a more enlightened drug policy. To send a message, visit the SSDP Action alert, call the White House at 202-456-1111, write them at or use their FAX line (open weekends) at 202-456-2461.

Kudos to California Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Barbara Lee for calling on UN Ambassador Susan Rice to change the policy of the US delegation to the Vienna drug summit. For too long, the US has been the leading international force for repressive and counterproductive drug policies. The fresh breeze from Congress is welcome – let’s hope that Obama listens!

Dale Gieringer, Director, Cal NORML

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