Why Is The United Nations Warning Members States Against Recreational Cannabis?
The United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the organization’s drug enforcement body, warned international leaders of its member states to make sure cannabis stays illegal.
Its 2017 annual report contains strict warnings to ensure that cannabis remains illegal. However, the INCB is made up of individuals, not UN member states, as a means of avoiding political pressure.
What’s fishy is that the Board members are required to have “medical, pharmacological or pharmaceutical experience,” which arose out of efforts from Big Pharma which lobbied against legalization. Even if UN rules state that non-medical use of cannabis should be illegal based on (outdated) international drug control treaties that were agreed on years ago, many member states including Canada and the United States continue to legalize the herb.
“Governments and jurisdictions in North America have continued to pursue policies with respect to the legalization of the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes, in violation of the 1961 Convention as amended,” the INCB wrote in their report, which was released last week.
The INCB called out several countries in the report. For one, Canada – saying that the proposed cannabis legalization law that will be finalized sometime later this year is in “contravention” of the agreements.
“The Board notes with concern that Canada, draft legislation intended to authorize and regulate the nonmedical consumption of cannabis was introduced in the House of Commons in April 2017,” says the report. “As the Board has stated repeatedly, if passed into law, provisions of Bill C-45, which permit non-medical and non-scientific use of cannabis would be incompatible with the obligations assumed by Canada under the 1961 Convention as amended.”
They also went after Uruguay, which legalized cannabis in 2013, saying that it was in “clear violation” of the drug treaties.
“The limitation of the use of controlled substances to medicinal and scientific purposes is a fundamental principle to which no derogation is permitted under the 1961 Convention as amended,” the INCB wrote.
The INCB also slammed Jamaica, where the religion allows the use of cannabis. Jamaica legalized cannabis in 2015 for religious purposes. “The Board reminds the Government of Jamaica and all other parties that under article 4, paragraph (c), of the 1961 Convention as amended only the medical and scientific use of cannabis is authorized and that for any other purposes, including religious, is not permitted,” the report writes.
They didn’t miss out on the United States, either. The report wrote that the North American policies on cannabis legalization made it easy for drug trafficking. “The situation pertaining to cannabis cultivation and trafficking in North America continues to be in flux, owing to the widening scope of personal non-medical use schemes in force in certain constituent states of the United States,” the INCB report writes. “The decriminalization of cannabis has apparently led organized criminal groups to focus on manufacturing and trafficking other illegal drugs, such as heroin.”
Even though the report says that medical cannabis is allowed based on international conventions, they don’t want member states to expand to recreational cannabis to “ensure that cannabis is prescribed by competent medical practitioners according to sound medical practice, and based on sound scientific evidence.”
Additionally, the INCB says that medical cannabis patients aren’t allowed to grow the plant for their own use. It seems that their issues with cultivation lies in being able to regain control of the population. “States must take measures to prohibit the unauthorized cultivation of cannabis plants, to seize and destroy illicit crops, and to prevent the misuse of and trafficking in cannabis. Similarly, the Board wishes to draw the attention of all Governments to its previously stated position that personal cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes is inconsistent with the 1961 Convention as amended because, inter alia, it heightens the risk of diversion,” the report says.
Should we have anything to worry about? Likely not. Even if the INCB is merely a puppet of Big Pharma, they usually don’t have much more power to do much aside from issuing warnings. So even if their latest report is filled with strict warnings, they won’t do much to stop the current efforts to legalize cannabis in member states.