UN celebrates "420"



UNODC Unveils Historic "4/20" Policy Redirect at UNGASS 2016


NEW YORK, 19 April 2016 - On the first day of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced that they will adopt extensive reforms to their decision-making processes and encourage evidence-based drug policy that prioritizes treatment and harm reduction instead of criminalization.


The announcement set a forward-thinking tone for UNGASS deliberations, which will continue on April 20 and 21, dates chosen to coincide with the popular observance of "4/20."


"The UNODC is proud to take its cue from a popular movement supporting marijuana decriminalization in particular, which claims as its annual holiday 4/20, or April 20, the central date of this year's UNGASS," said UNODC Public Information Officer Kevin Campo during opening remarks at the first plenary session on Tuesday morning. "This is just one way we’re showing our commitment to rethinking the drug war from a more humane perspective."


UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov described the need for a shift in priorities in the war on drugs. "The science increasingly supports decriminalization and harm reduction over proscriptive, fear-based approaches. It's time to reverse the cycles of violence that occur wherever 'drug wars' are undertaken, and to abandon policies that exacerbate suffering."


In addition to revising decision-making processes so that a more diverse range of voices can influence drug policy, the UNODC also laid out new international recommendations, including decriminalization; universal access to controlled medicines; criminal justice system reform including elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and abolition of the death penalty; and rescheduling cannabis to account for its medical use.


"It's time we acknowledge approaches that have been well known not only to science, but also to a very large number of ordinary people with legitimate, well-considered arguments for the liberalization of drug policy worldwide," said Mr. Campo. "This '4/20,' we can begin to dismantle ‘just say no’ policies that result in millions needlessly killed and incarcerated—and that defy logic and science—and instead bring to the forefront humane solutions that are known to work."


The UNODC will present a full report of its restructuring and updated policy recommendations following the conclusion of the UNGASS.


For further information, please contact:

Kevin Campo, Associate Communications Director: kcampo@unodcpress.org cell: (+1) 201-373-6491