Breaking the Taboo

Breaking the Taboo40 years of devastating failure “must end to protect our children” says UK-based drug policy reformer Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss

A new global campaign to end the War on Drugs is launched today, backed by world leaders and celebrities. In a radical drive to reinforce public support, a documentary, Breaking The Taboo, narrated by Morgan Freeman, goes live worldwide on 7 December, on YouTube at

The film – directed by Cosmo Feilding Mellen and promoted by Google globally – will mark the “devastating failure” of half a century of worldwide prohibitionism, says Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss, Director of the Beckley Foundation.

The Countess has rallied support from nearly 70 of the world’s most influential figures to sign the Beckley Public Letter, including nine Presidents (among them Jimmy Carter and the current leaders of Colombia and Guatemala); twelve Nobel prizewinners; and a host of international celebrities such as Sting, Yoko Ono, Noam Chomsky, Sean Parker and Sir Richard Branson.

The film Breaking the Taboo follows the Global Commission on Drug Policy to expose “the biggest failure of global policy in the last 40 years”. It features leading doctors, law enforcement officers and experts on global drug policy, as well as many Presidents including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter; Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia (current); Ruth Dreifuss, Switzerland; César Gaviria, Colombia; and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil.

In the film, both Clinton and Carter acknowledge that the international, US-led War on Drugs has failed, and that a change in international policy is needed.

The campaign website, is produced by the Beckley Foundation in association with Virgin Unite, Avaaz, Sundog Pictures and the Global Commission on Drug Policy. It invites visitors to sign a petition calling on political leaders to consider all possible options for reform.

The Countess of Wemyss said: “Politicians won’t act unless the public demand it, so we are giving world citizens a voice in challenging the international prohibitionist approach to drug control. When we have 1 million signatures we will present the petition to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General.”

Today, global annual spending on drug law enforcement exceeds $100 billion, and the UK alone spends over £300 million. The money would be far better spent on education and treatment. There is also a terrible cost in human life – Mexico has seen over 50,000 people die in drug wars in the last six years.

Despite this, drugs have become the world’s third largest industry (behind food and oil); are cheaper and more available than ever before; and remain in the hands of criminal cartels. The worldwide illegal drug market is estimated to be worth $300–400 billion a year.

Amanda Feilding added: “Parents worldwide should recognise that their children would be better protected if drugs were strictly regulated by governments, rather than what we have at the moment: totally unregulated markets all in the hands of criminal cartels.

“We need pragmatic, evidence-based drug policies oriented towards health, harm reduction, cost effectiveness and human rights – not, as we have had for the last half century, policies based on taboo, ideology and political cowardice.”

The film Breaking the Taboo is directed and produced by Cosmo Feilding Mellen, Amanda Feilding’s son, and is a production of Sam Branson’s company Sundog Pictures.

Amanda Feilding continued: “It is a great pleasure working together with my son Cosmo on this important mission. Reforming our drug policies along more rational lines could arguably reduce global suffering and increase happiness more than any other change in public policy.” Cosmo echoes: “Having grown up with drug policy as an ever-present topic of conversation, I’ve always dreamed of making a film about this subject. The tide is turning, and the Breaking the Taboo film and campaign couldn’t come at a better time”.

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  1. December 7, 2012

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