Former World Leaders Call for End to Failed War on Drugs

We look at the growing movement for drug decriminalization that is moving ahead in the United States and being amplified by former heads of state from around the around.

On Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he would sign a bill that would make Philadelphia the largest city in the country to decriminalize marijuana possession. Just two weeks ago, the City Council in Santa Fe voted to decriminalize marijuana. Earlier this year, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in the U.S. capital. Ballot initiatives on legalization of marijuana will go before voters in Oregon, Florida and Alaska in November. This comes two years after voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana.

Meanwhile, a group of former presidents and United Nations leaders gathered in New York Tuesday to call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. Known as the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the panel includes the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. The commission first made headlines in 2011 when it declared the war on drugs to be a failure.

We are joined by two guests: Michel Kazatchkine, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the United Nations’ special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

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