Recently, CEO of Virgin Group Richard Branson took to the blog pages of his company's website to tackle the topic of drug policy. Though not totally out of character for the business mogul who has previously shared his own progressive mentality on drug use, Branson's latest statement made waves when he reportedly admitted to unveiling embargoed United Nations documents. Supposedly, the documents Branson had seen with his own eyes stated that a push to encourage international governments to decriminalize all use and possession of illegal drugs would be implemented. He claimed that what he had seen in these documents could "end the war on drugs."
Additionally, Branson claimed that his choice to go public with the private documents was in effort to ensure that the UN would not "bow to pressure by not going ahead with this important move."
However, since the release and press coverage of Branson's statement, the UN has stated that the policy is false. Described as an "unfortunate misunderstanding," a spokesperson has explained that the confusion came from a two-page brief which was scheduled to be delivered at an international harm reduction conference in Malaysia.
"The briefing paper on decriminalisation mentioned in many of today’s media reports, and intended for dissemination and discussion at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, is neither a final nor formal document … and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy. It remains under review and UNODC regrets that, on this occasion, there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper. UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document. But it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready," a spokesperson told The Guardian.