Join The Fight To Legalize Weed Today At The UN
For the first time in nearly two decades, the United Nations is hosting a special session of the General Assembly on drug policy at its New York headquarters—and they couldn’t have planned it for a better time, since the second day of the session will fall on 4/20.
Inspired by the session’s fortuitous timing, a group of NYC-based protesters, led by a man who goes by Potanist Matt, will be holding a legalization rally outside of the UN’s headquarters on 42nd Street and 1st Avenue. Naturally, the rally will begin at 4:20 pm on 4/20. The protesters are calling for legal weed, an end to the international War on Drugs, and allowing home-growing. What is surprising is that for the first time, world leaders are starting to agree with these ideas.
This year’s session is the third the United Nations has held on drug policy: the first was the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the second was the 1998 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. If the sessions’ titles weren’t enough to clue you in, neither of these meetings were particularly lenient on drug use. At the 1998 session, member states pledged that the world would be “drug free” by 2008. The plan was to eliminate drug cultivation and trafficking at the source, with a focus eradicating coca in the Andes and poppies—which are used to make opiates—in Afghanistan. “Plan Colombia,” a joint plan between the United States and Colombian governments to eliminate the drug trade by aerially spraying coca plants with herbicides and going after drug traffickers, is the most indicative of world’s the post-1998 drug policy.
Due to the laws of supply and demand—i.e., people want drugs, and if drugs are illegal they’ll still find a way to get them—policies like Plan Colombia were largely unsuccessful. By 2008 the world was nowhere close to being “drug free.” In fact, the United Nations’ 2008 World Drug Report indicated “a surge in the supply of illicit drugs” with world opium production almost doubling between 2005 and 2007, while coca cultivation increased in the Andes. According to the FBI, the most frequent arrests made in 2008 were for drug abuse violations—approximately 1.7 million—and totaled 12.2% of all arrests.
The conversation has thankfully shifted since then. Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala—the three countries that called for this years’ meeting—have experienced the failures of the War on Drugs firsthand and are calling for change. Representatives from Latin America—including Uruguay, which legalized cannabis in 2013—are arguing for more “flexible” drug policy, including treating drug addiction as a human rights issue by prioritizing therapy and needle exchange programs over criminalization of drug users.
As cheesy as it sounds, we’re living in a new millennium now: we’ve experienced the failure of the War on Drugs both in the United States and abroad, recent scientific studies actually promote the benefits of hallucinogens like LSD, and both protesters and politicians agree that it’s time for a change. Regardless of what international leaders decide, people aren’t going to stop smoking or snorting anytime soon—and a 4/20 protest might be the best way to let them know that.
Images via Herb, Tumblr.
Stay tuned to Milk for a day full of 4/20 goodness.