By Sydney Lupkin for VICE. Ahead of the first special session of the United Nations General Assembly on global drug policy in nearly two decades health officials from around the world have formed a commission and authored a report to persuade officials to walk back the zero-tolerance policies of the past 50 years, which they say have harmed public health instead of protecting it.

The theme of the last special session on drugs in 1998 — “A drug-free world — we can do it!” — advocated drug eradication and a draconian approach to drug use. In calling for decriminalization of minor drug offenses and increased social and health services for drug users, the 22 members of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Public Health and International Drug Policy hope their 54-page report will encourage officials to undo some of that damage when the three-day session begins on April 19.

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