The report comes on the heels of moves by several states in the US and the entire nation of Uruguay to completely legalize the drug. Colorado and Washington have already legalized it, while many other states are seriously considering it, including Alaska, which will hold a public vote on it this year.
But the head of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the UN body for enforcing international drug treaties, calls the moves toward legalization “misguided initiatives,” and says the places that legalized marijuana are contravening UN drug treaties.
The report cites statistics that point to an increase in cannabis-related traffic accidents in Colorado to illustrate why the INCB says legalization is a bad idea. Chief of the INCB Raymond Yans said Colorado’s legalization program was poorly implemented.
“Drug traffickers will choose the path of least resistance, so, it is essential that global efforts to tackle the drug problem are unified.
“INCB is concerned about some initiatives aimed at the legalization of the non-medical and non-scientific use of cannabis. Such initiatives, if pursued, would pose a grave danger to public health and well-being, the very things the states, in designing the conventions, intended to protect.
“INCB looks forward to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with all countries, including those where such misguided initiatives are being pursued, with a view to ensuring the full implementation of the conventions and protecting public health.”
It’s been legal in Colorado since January for licensed suppliers to sell marijuana to anyone over 21. Washington state is likely to pass similar legislation in the next few months, while Uruguay’s parliament voted in December to legalize and regulate the sale and production of marijuana and that country is getting its system for control and distribution set up.
Reaction to the report has been predictably mixed, with a spokesman for the Home Office in the UK saying that government organization agrees with it.
On the other hand, Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at Transform Drug Policy Foundation, a charitable think-tank that campaigns for legal regulation of drugs in the UK and abroad, had some harsh words for the INCB:
“As the self-proclaimed guardians of the drug conventions, the INCB defend treaties that are fraught with scientific and legal inconsistencies, including conflicts with other treaties and norms developed within the UN system.
“In the case of cannabis, there has never been a review based on the required criteria. President Yans’s disrespectful and arrogant behaviour toward the Uruguayan Government will further affect the reputation of the Board as a whole. Reform-minded countries will have little choice but to disregard future recommendations from or dialogue with the INCB. In short the INCB appears to have signed its own death warrant.”