Legalizing Cannabis Violates the UN Drug Control Treaties, But Progressive Countries Like Canada Have Options
37 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 1, 2018
There is growing concern that the international drug control regime’s outdated and restrictive drug control measures do not meet current human rights standards and public health needs. Provisions in three historically prohibitionist United Nations treaties – the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances – substantially limit Party latitude in legalizing and regulating schedule-listed substances, including cannabis. Against this backdrop, following through on a promise made during the 2015 national election, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-45 in April 2017 to legalize cannabis for non-medical uses by Summer 2018. This article analyzes and explains how legalizing cannabis violates the three United Nations drug control treaties. Anchored in the premise of respect for the rule of international law, the article identifies several ways forward for reconciling domestic cannabis legalization plans with international legal obligations under the United Nations drug control regime.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation