The Global Commission on Drug Policy supported by Branson meets Ban ahead of the UN’s 2016 session on drugs to lobby the group to adopt recommendations making drugs a health issue instead of a criminal one. The group including Annan, Zedillo, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Cesar Gaviria, Ruth Dreifuss, Michel Kazatchkine, Jorge Sampaio, and Thorvald Stoltenberg hopes the UN will alter ‘dated rhetoric and unrealistic goals’ set in the previous drugs session in 1998. GCDP report:
Punitive drug law enforcement fuels crime and maximizes the health risks associated with drug use, especially among the most vulnerable. Criminal drug producers and traffickers thrive in fragile, conflict-affected and underdeveloped regions, where vulnerable populations are easily exploited. The corruption, violence and instability generated by unregulated drug markets are widely recognized as a threat to both security and development.
Among other findings, it cites statistics showing that almost one in four Russian heroin users is HIV positive. Annan:
The facts speak for themselves. It is time to change course. We need drug policies informed by evidence of what actually works.
It also looks at death rates in the Mexican cartel wars. Former president Zedillo:
Decriminalization of drug consumption is certainly crucial but not sufficient. Significant legal and institutional reforms, both at the national and international levels, are needed to allow governments and societies to put in place policies to regulate the supply of drugs with rigorous medical criteria, if the engines of organized crime profiting from drug traffic are to be truly dismantled.
The recommendations are similar to drug laws that allow regulated cannabis sale points in the Netherlands, some states in the U.S., and recently introduced in Uruguay. They advocate banning crack cocaine and Krokodil, a class of Russian-invented synthetic heroin substitutes that users manufacture from red phosphorous from matchbooks, gasoline, and cough medicine containing codeine or even anaesthetic eye drops, and which cause skin necrosis and brain damage when injected.