Today the head of the United Nations anti-narcotics division said legalization in four U.S. state and the country’s capitol violates international anti-drug treaties. Residents of Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. joined Colorado and Washington Nov. 4 in ending the failed prohibition of cannabis — replacing it with a tax and regulate scheme for adults 21 and over.
Reuters reports Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said, “I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions.”
The United States has pushed anti-marijuana treaties on the world in since the ’50s, researchers note. No country can legalize cannabis for non-scientific or medical use, according to the 1961Single Convention on Narcotics.
Fedotov will discuss the issue in with the U.S. State Dept. this week. Cannabis remains federally illegal, but the Obama Administration told federal prosecutors to focus on pot activity that violates state controls in legalization states. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration continues to conduct targeted raids in Colorado, Washington and elsewhere.
U.S. legalization is part of a global trend. Uruguay became the first country to legalize cannabis, and The Netherlands — which has long-decriminalized cannabis possession and consumption — will consider licensing and controlling cultivation.
Other international groups like the Global Commission on Drug Policy are urging governments to allow cannabis law reforms.
“Harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies must be replaced by more humane and effective policies shaped by scientific evidence, public health principles and human rights standards. This is the only way to simultaneously reduce drug-related death, disease and suffering and the violence, crime, corruption and illicit markets associated with ineffective prohibitionist policies,” the Commission states in its executive summary for 2014 report Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies That Work.
“The facts speak for themselves. It is time to change course,” stated Kofi Annan, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and convenor of the West Africa Commission on Drugs (chaired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, of Nigeria), which presented wide-ranging recommendations for drug policy reform earlier this year. “We need drug policies informed by evidence of what actually works, rather than policies that criminalize drug use while failing to provide access to effective prevention or treatment. This has led not only to overcrowded jails but also to severe health and social problems.”