It’s Time to End the War on Drugs

Tuesday 13 March 2012, 7.34pm | Google +

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To liberalise or prohibit, that is the question. And to answer it the masters of live debate have joined forces with the masters of web technology to create a never-seen-before combination of Oxford debating and Silicon Valley prowess.

Prohibitionists argue that legalising anything increases its consumption. The world has enough of a problem with legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, so why add to the problem by legalising cannabis, cocaine and heroin?

The liberalisers say prohibition doesn’t work. By declaring certain drugs illegal we haven’t reduced consumption or solved any problem. Instead we’ve created an epidemic of crime, illness, failed states and money laundering.

Julian Assange and Richard Branson; Russell Brand and Misha Glenny; Geoffrey Robertson and Eliot Spitzer. Experts, orators and celebrities who’ve made this their cause – come and see them lock horns in a newIntelligence²/Google+ debate format. Some of our speakers will be on stage in London, others beamed in from Mexico City or São Paulo or New Orleans, all thanks to the “Hangout” tool on Google+.

The web will have its say, and so can you at the event in London. Be part of the buzz of the audience, be part of an event beamed across the web to millions. Come and witness the future of the global mind-clash at the first of our Versus debates, live at Kings Place.


Jemima Khan – Associate editor of the New Statesman and European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair


Emily Maitlis – Newsnight presenter

Making the case in favour of relaxing drug control

Misha Glenny – Journalist and author of bestseller McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime

Geoffrey Robertson QC – Leading human rights lawyer

Making the case in favour of retaining drug control

Antonio Maria Costa – Former Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Eliot Spitzer – Former governor of New York, lawyer and political commentator


Louise Arbour – Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, president of the International Crisis Group, and member of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy

Julian Assange – Founder of WikiLeaks (via Google+ Hangouts)

Ian Blair – Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner

Russell Brand – Actor, comedian and author (via Google+ Hangouts)

Richard Branson – Chairman of Virgin Group and member of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy

Fernando Cardoso – Former President of Brazil (via Google+ Hangouts)

Sandeep Chawla – Deputy Executive Director and Director of Research and Policy, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (via Google+ Hangouts)

Theodore Dalrymple – Former prison doctor and author

David Eagleman – American neuroscientist and author (via Google+ Hangouts)

Vicente Fox – Former President of Mexico and member of the Club de Madrid (on Google+ Hangouts)

Johann Hari – Journalist and author

Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday columnist and author

Nigel Keegan – Investment banker, doctor and former military officer

Bernard Kouchner – Former French foreign minister

Danny Kushlick – Head of External Affairs, Transform Drug Policy Foundation (via Google+ Hangouts)

Barry McCaffrey – General, U.S. Army (Retired) and former Director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from 1996 to 2001

Neil McKeganey – Director of Centre for Drug Misuse Research and author of Controversies in Drugs Policy and Practice

Juan Manuel Santos – President of the Republic of Colombia (via Google+ Hangouts)

Steve Rolles – Senior policy analyst at Transform Drug Policy Foundation, expert on drugs regulation

Ed Vulliamy – Author of Amexica: War along the Borderline, a book about the war along the US-Mexico border