UN Drug Official ‘Voices Concern’ Over State Marijuana Laws

Written by Nicole Flatow

As federal officials mull how to react to the passage of marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado, the head of a United Nations drug agency is urging the federal government to do whatever necessary to ensure the United States’ continued compliance with international drug treaties.

International Narcotics Control Board President Raymond Yans said laws authorizing the non-medical use of cannabis violate international drug control treaties and send ‘‘a wrong message to the rest of the nation and … a wrong message abroad.’’ Under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, marijuana is listed as a “Schedule I” drug, meaning states are tasked with implementing a system for limiting usage of the drug to medical and scientific purposes.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the treaty, and some have questioned whether the treaty’s goal of protecting the “health of welfare of mankind” has been undermined by drug criminalization. As the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform explains:

The 1961 Convention was drafted and negotiated in a very different political and social environment than today. Notably, drug use was significantly less widespread and illegal drug markets were more confined geographically and less diverse. International organised crime, which profits greatly from drug trafficking, was yet to become the global phenomenon that we have seen since. HIV and its transmission through the use of syringes in drug use, as well as the prevalent use of cocaine, synthetic drugs and other stimulants were not significant concerns in 1961. Indeed, it was only after the 1961 Convention’s legislation was fully implemented, did large-scale illegal production of controlled substances begin. [...]

Although the objectives of the  1961 Convention made it clear that its aims were the improvement of the health and welfare of mankind, the measures of success which have been used in the ‘war on drugs’ approach have been the number of arrests, size of the seizures or severity of prison sentences. … “these indicators may tell us how tough we are being, but they don’t tell us how successful we are in improving the health and welfare of mankind.”

Like many international treaties, the Single Convention does not have any strong mechanism for enforcement, and other signatory countries have endured similar warnings without consequence. Canada, for example, was warned by the INCB in 2008 after it launched its “safe injection sites,” but it has since continued operating the sites and even looked to expand the program.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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W. C
W. Cabout a month ago


William C
William Cabout a month ago

Thank you.

Robert German
Past Member 3 years ago

This is an informative blog by which I have got that info which I really wanted to get.
Seeds Marijuana

Brian F.
Brian F5 years ago

Mariuana should be legal. Alcohol and tobacco should be illegal because they kill far more people. Hemp contains no THC, the active ingrediant in pot, and is legal in every industrielized nation in the world, except the USA, which has a failed drug war. Hemp can be used to make rope, paper, and as an energy crop for electricity. Our nation's failed war on drugs and it's criminaliztion of mariuana, which can help sick people, is the fault of the republicans and their sick corrupt drug laws under their late president Reagon, who allows alcohol, and cirguarettes, to be legal, even though they actually kill thousands of people every year. Mariuanna has never killed anyone, but tobacco and alcohol kill thousands every year. This shows yet again how ignorant and stupid conservative republicans are by supporting our nation's corrupt drug laws.

Juergen M.
Juergen M5 years ago

Really the people in the UN are criminals.

In short, the allegations of "harm" by which Cannabis has been prohibited are, by disinterested scientific scrutiny, not substantiated: the "harm" has been competently , comprehensively and consistently dismissed. The allegations are naught by figments. The unfounded "law" has always been false; the Prohibition is an ongoing fraud; all Cannabis related prosecutions of citizens are malicious.

Currently, to use the term "drug" to describe cannabis is not simply untruthful, but worse, it is the premeditated adoption of an unconscionable Prohibitionist tactic of semantic abuse. This devious ploy deliberately associates mild, benign cannabis with potentially dangerous, addictive substances, drugs - of which alcohol is one such - to make cannabis appear to be something harmful, which the official empirical researches confirm is not.

Cannabis - The Benign Medical Herb

The official Empirical Studies into actual use of cannabis conclude:
1) use of Cannabis has no adverse effect upon mental or physical health: Cannabis is harmless, it even improves the mental and physical health;
2) use of Cannabis does not cause any impairment to mental and physical abilities: Cannabis is safe, it even enhances these herein named abilities;
3) modern Medical Case Histories show Cannabis to have numerous beneficial results to health: Cannabis is benign, it even cures from cancer and prevents one from other diseases.

These UN people's acqu

Ken W.
Ken W5 years ago

Pot is Gods way think about it !!

Lauryn Slotnick
Lauryn S5 years ago

(cut off) I am disgusted that Yans is busy "voicing concern" over this instead of on how to treat addicts on hard drugs, and how to give indigenous people in countries like Columbia true options and markets in which to sell legal crops so that they don't need to turn to coca.

Lauryn Slotnick
Lauryn S5 years ago

Yans' "concern" is absurdly misplaced and nonsensical. There is absolutely no scientific or public health basis to list marijuana as a “Schedule I” drug. Legality of drugs should be based on (1) physical addictiveness, as in whether only heavy, consistent use can cause one to become addicted, but casual use produces no such dependency (like alcohol), vs. habit/dependence-forming substances after only a few uses (such as heroin, etc., and to a lesser extent cigarettes); and (2) the potential for overdose, as in whether moderate casual use is extremely unlikely to cause overdose (like alcohol), vs. use that gives the body no way to self-regulate, such as drugs injected or snorted.

There's one "illegal" drug that does not meet either of these categories - it is not physically addictive (which alcohol can be and cigarettes are), and it cannot cause death by overdose (like alcohol can): marijuana. To keep this drug "illegal" is an insane waste of police resources, a heinous black mark on creating a criminal record for casual users for something that should not be a crime, and a lost lucrative opportunity for the government for a substance that should be regulated and taxed.

Does the UN really have nothing better to do than to "voice concern" over a non-physically addictive substance with no overdose potential? I can think of many, many things they should be spending their time on instead. I am disgusted that Yans is busy "voicing concern" over this instead of on h

Robert Cruder
Robert Cruder5 years ago

Laws authorizing non-medical use of cannabis violate international drug control treaties that were written by the U.S. The U.S. could easily eliminate the “Schedule I” classification.

Treaties are renegotiated every day. Could Japan and Norway have avoided whale kill limits by claiming they were illegal under earlier versions of the treaty?

Raymond Yans claim that even partial legalization in the U.S. sends ‘‘a wrong message to the rest of the nation and … a wrong message abroad’’ sounds like a preacher railing against people promote Satan or like "Joe" McCarthy against Communist subversion. It claims cannabis consumption is universally harmful. The number of adults who benefit proves otherwise.

The ones who suffer long-term harm are children who smoke heavily through adolescence and pre-adult years. Raymond Yans and his ilk prey on the fears of parents. Parents of yesteryear believed they were jailing only blacks and Mexicans to assuage a tiny fraction of the fear that is endemic to parenthood. Instead they jailed friends and neighbors.

In the U.S. today's parents are "entitled" to perfect children and blame anything less not on their parenting skills, not on genetics, not on chance and not on Satan but rather on other people (who can be sued) and on inanimate objects or chemical substances (that can be banned). It is fortunate that parents are now a minority

Dolores W.
Dee Wilson5 years ago

Lynda, you are EXACTLY right! I do not smoke weed but I have lost several family members to cancers that could have been cured by the THC in marijuanna. Studies in Canada are now showing tumors being reduced 50% in 3 days with plain old baking soda, but there's no money in it for pharmaceudical companies so they dont pay for the research! Watch the documentary video called "Cut Burn Poison" to see some remarkable findings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCmr2OGmMDQ