Stop the drug war to fight AIDS
- By Richard Branson -
- Jun 26, 2012
The war on drugs is a failure and immediate, major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime are needed to halt the spread of HIV infection and other drug war harms.
Today we launched a new Global Commission on Drug Policy report with a livestreamed conference from London, calling for drug decriminalisation and and expansion of proven, cost-effective solutions to reduce HIV/AIDS.
I became a commissioner with the Global Commission on Drug Policy because it was a rare opportunity to do real fact-based research into a major policy issue and, along with many distinguished colleagues, used analysis to drive change.
I had long thought that the war on drugs did more harm than good – as with the prohibition of alcohol in the United States had done in the 1920s – and the Commission’s research put the data behind those beliefs, resulting in the Commission urging governments worldwide to treat drug use as a health issue and not a criminal issue.
The report today takes a new look at the problem and finds the facts. For example, the war on drugs has seen a massive increase of opiate use and heroin users are likely to share needles and transmit HIV. This war is not slowing drug use, it costs billions and now we see that it has also contributed significantly to the global AIDS epidemic by driving all users into the shadows.
As an entrepreneur, if one of my businesses is failing year after year I’d close it down or change tack - I would not wait 40 years. The war on drugs is perhaps the greatest failure of global policy in the last 40 years and as the Commission says: "Refusing to implement such proven public health measures that reduce HIV infection and protect people who have a drug problem is criminal."
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group