Richard Branson says the U.N. is about to come out against the war on drugs

U.N. headquarters
(Image credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

In a blog post published Monday on, British entrepreneur and multi-billionaire Richard Branson claimed the United Nations is about to take a stand against the drug war worldwide:

In an as-yet unreleased statement circulated to the BBC, myself, and others, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which has shaped much of global drug policy for decades, calls on governments around the world to decriminalize drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs. This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalization of millions of drug users around the world. The UNODC document was due to be launched at the International Harm reduction conference in Malaysia yesterday. [Virgin]

A longtime advocate of treating drug addiction as an illness rather than a crime, Branson said that it is "exciting that the UNODC has now unequivocally stated that criminalization is harmful, unnecessary, and disproportionate," but worried that the agency was subject to "an inordinate amount of pressure" from one government in particular that opposes decriminalization.

Branson included a UNODC briefing paper in his post which clearly advocated for recreational decriminalization, but the agency said in a statement that the paper "is neither a final nor formal document from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy." The response also denied Branson's allegation of pressure to retract its decriminalization stance, commenting that "it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready."

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.