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Richard Branson, World Leaders Call For Marijuana Legalization And End to War on Drugs

The call for legalization has gone from the back of a VW van to the forefront of global politics in the span of two generations.

Tomorrow a report from a group of world leaders that includes former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz, and former U.S. Fed chairman Paul Volcker will call for an end to the war on drugs and for a move toward legalization and regulation.

The Weekly was told Virgin's Richard Branson, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, and former Columbian President César Gaviria would be on-hand in New York for the report's unveiling.

According to a statement from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) the report calls the war on drugs "a failure" and encourages "nations to pursue legalizing and regulating drugs as a way to put a stop the the violence inherent in the illegal drug market."

Richard Branson is a high flyer.

Richard Branson is a high flyer.

Baltimore police official Neill Franklin, LEAP's executive director:

It's no longer a question of whether legalizing drugs is a serious topic of debate for serious people. These former presidents and other international leaders have placed drug legalization squarely on the table as an important solution that policymakers need to consider. As a narcotics cop on the streets, I saw how the prohibition approach not only doesn't reduce drug abuse but how it causes violence and crime that affect all citizens and taxpayers, whether they use drugs or not.

LEAP spokesman Tom Angell tells the Weekly the report's unveiling "should be pretty big."

It happens tomorrow at 11 a.m. EST at the storied Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Other endorsers of the pro-pot report include writer Carlos Fuentes, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

We're going to assume the Waldorf is not a pot-friendly establishment. So if you go -- it's really for press, anyway -- try not to light 'em if you got 'em.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]