Global Commission on Drug Policy meeting
- By Richard Branson -
- Oct 24, 2012
The strange life I lead. Spent the morning launching Virgin Mobile and a new entrepreneur Academy in Poland, afternoon attending a meeting with the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
Polish drug law is considered to be among the most severe in Europe. Over 400,000 young people have a criminal record for drug offences in Poland alone.
One of the new Commissioners is Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former President of Poland, who now realises that the drug law that he signed in 2000 while he was President is doing much damage to young people in the country.
However, steps are being made in the right direction, as an important amendment to the law on illegal drug possession came into force last year. Prosecutors can now stop criminal procedure against those possessing small amount of drugs for personal use. President Kwasniewski now feels very strongly, as do the other commissioners that drugs should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal problem.
President Kwasniewski said that "sadly, now these young people have broken beginnings". Brave to see ex-Presidents admitting their mistakes and trying to change drug policy and have a positive effect on Poland.
Latin America has opened the debate, but Eastern Europe is way behind. Just come from Moscow where 1.2 million Russians have HIV. 80% of these cases are drug related. Russia does not recognise harm reduction and there is significant stigma linked to HIV/AIDS and drug use. There is only 20% coverage of treatment for HIV/AIDS in Russia. This is partly due to the need to prove you are drug free in order to get HIV/AIDS treatment. What madness.
Will keep you updated on our efforts with the Global Commission on Drugs to open up the debate further.
Images by Katarzyna Rainka/ GCDP
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group