The Yes Men | UN Smoke Clears
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UN Smoke Clears

Reveal Date

April 20, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

UN Not Recognizing 4/20, Not Ending Drug Violence, Not Standing Up To Drug-Addled National Bullies, and Not Urging Stoners To Grow Pot At Home

 

Hoax highlights UN paralysis on drug policy at April 19-21 UNGASS

 

Last week, during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem—whose dates strangely centered on April 20, or 4/20—the Los Angeles Times quoted a press release announcing an ambitious new UN plan to decriminalize drugs and make them a health care rather than criminal justice issue.

 

This was welcome news for most of the world’s countries, who support making such a shift, but sadly the press release and associated Twitter account were a hoax, as discovered by journalist Tom Angell from Marijuana.com.

 

Shortly after Angell’s revelation, a supposed UN denunciation of the hoax explained that “deadbeat states” like the USA, Russia, and China had prevented the UN from meeting the needs of poorer states like Mexico and Colombia who continue to be ravaged by the drug war. That release, also a hoax, quoted a UN spokesperson suggesting that citizens of the USA, Russia, and China should grow their own as the only way to wash their hands of bloody drug violence. (See coverage in The Guardian and CNN.)

 

Both press releases were in fact home-grown by Potanist, an online community for cannabis enthusiasts, who teamed up with notorious tricksters the Yes Men to get their message out.

 

“In the US, cannabis prohibition disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color and those on the fringes,” said Potanist’s Matt Heffler. “In Latin America, it provides drug cartels with practically infinite funding. Everyone suffers—except the US private prison industry and the cartels.”

 

“The UN could really make a difference here, and it’s very sad that they’ve caved in to bullying,” Heffler added. Countries like Mexico and Colombia, crippled by rampant violence over drugs bound for the USA and Europe, have been demanding an end to the failed war on drugs for years, and many had hoped that this UNGASS would be a step to that change.

 

“In the US we tend to think of medical access to drugs as the main reason to legalize cannabis,” said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. “But ending the cycle of violence fuelled by the drug war is orders of magnitude more important. Unless there’s policy change, US citizens can’t buy drugs without fearing their purchase is contributing to somebody’s death. That can really harsh your buzz.”

 

“Working with Potanist on this opened my eyes,” said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men. “If you hate the violence but still want the drugs, you have to work on legalizing it. And until you succeed, you should at a minimum consider growing your own weed. It’s like giving up factory-farmed meat if you care about climate change. Sadly, without systemic change these half-baked answers are the only ethical options we’ve got.”