UN Criticizes US Marijuana Laws

By McCarton Ackerman 03/05/13

Legalization in a growing number of states violates UN drug conventions, a report warns.

Actually, no, you can't, says the UN.
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The United States has been a little too welcoming towards marijuana, according to the United Nations. The UN has warned Washington that cannabis legalization measures in Colorado and Washington, and the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in 18 states, are in violation of international drug conventions. In an annual report, the UN's International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which polices drug treaties, expresses concerns over public health and argues that medical cannabis needs to be more properly regulated. "In some US states they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the conventions," reads the report. "(It's) a back-door to legalisation for recreational use." INCB President Raymond Yans said the US attorney-general reassured him that a federal ban on the cultivation and possession of cannabis would remain in force. But Yans stated that the states' increasingly lax marijuana laws "also undermine the humanitarian aims of the drug control system and are a threat to public health and wellbeing."

The report also highlights the "unprecedented surge" of so-called "legal highs" on the market. Use of synthetic drugs has reportedly multiplied tenfold over the last decade. Governments will meet in Vienna next week at the UN commission on narcotic drugs to discuss the first global co-ordinated response to the rise in legal highs. Japan, South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina and the US are among the countries who have voiced concern, and begun to develop systems to curb the problem. But Yans said that countries must collaborate, and a uniform system must be put in place. "It is difficult to see a real global response to this challenge if different states take different measures to control different substances especially in the European Union where it is a single market and so easy to cross borders," he said. "This is one of the most pertinent questions in Vienna next week."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.