Press Release Feb. 8. 1998

The Body Shop and the Finnish anti-drug campaign

The Finnish national organization against abuse, Irti Huumeista (http://www.irtihuumeista.fi) and the Finnish Body Shop stores have launched a month-long national campaign, during which Body Shop stores in Finland are selling pins with the slogan "Life is the best drug". The proceeds are to be used to finance the telephone hotline service of Irti Huumeista.

Ever since it was established, The Body Shop (http://www.bodyshop.com), under the leadership of its founder Anita Roddick, has gone out of its way to promote ethical business standards both in the company's production and its marketing: the cosmetics are not tested on animals, the production processes themselves are as environmentally friendly as possible, and customers are encouraged to return empty containers to the stores for recycling. The company also emphasises fair trade with the suppliers of its raw materials. In addition to its socially responsible business ethics, The Body Shop actively supports organizations promoting human rights, environmental, and other worthy causes.

The Body Shop's founder and cannabis decriminalization

The Finnish Cannabis Association (http://www.sky.org) has often come under quite severe criticism from members of irti Huumeista, who have suggested that expressing anti-prohibitionist views is tantamount to the endorsement of the misuse of drugs. Although this criticism has at times exceded the bounds of appropriate public debate, we feel that humanitarian work on behalf of people who have problems related to the use of drugs is worthy of support. Concerning the current campaign we feel that it is worth pointing out that in addition to the promotion of other worthy causes, Body Shop founder Anita Roddick has publicly taken a stand on the question of cannabis decriminalisation which is closer to that of the Finnish Cannabis Association than that of Irti Huumeista. Ms. Roddick has given her support to the campaign for the decriminalisation of cannabis launched by the British newspaper The Independent on Sunday. Other campaign supporters include investor George Soros, businessman Richard Branson, authors Geremaine Greer, John Le Carre, and Harold Pinter, as well as performing artists Paul MaCartney, Billy Bragg, Boy George, and Peter Gabriel.

On the Independent on Sunday's website, Anita Roddick explains her views on the cannabis question as follows:

"The current policies on cannabis make no sense. Our government needs to spend less time trying to regulate individual behaviour and more time trying to guide institutions into responsible behaviour. Decriminalisation will help." (http//www.independent.co.uk/sindypot/stories/cann06.htm)

At the press conference announcing the launch of the February campaign, a spokeswoman for the Finnish Body Shop stores downplayed the issue, saying Anita Roddick's stand on the cannabis question is her personal opinion, which primarily concerns the medical use of cannabis. In any case it is an interesting indication that taking a critical view toward cannabis prohibition is not necessarily incompatible with a genuine concern about the mental, physical, and social damage linked with the abuse of psychoactive substances. On the contrary: in the current situation, open and unfettered drug policy debate is more important than ever.