United Nations Raises Concern About U.S. Marijuana Legalization

The overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in the recently-held U.S. elections is being viewed with scrutiny by the United Nations.

This comes a few weeks after voters in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia took to the polls and approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, as reported by the Inquisitr.

According to Reuters, the U.N. anti-narcotics chief has said that these moves to legalize marijuana runs counter to international drugs conventions.

The International Business Times notes that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says it will be discussing the increasing recognition of marijuana in American mainstream next week in Washington with the U.S. State Department and other UN agencies.

Under U.S. federal law, marijuana remains classified as an illegal narcotic.

The Obama administration, however, has allowed individual states to determine their own recreational-use statues.

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told reporters.

Fedotov fears the U.S. developments might be the start of a global trend of legalizing marijuana use.

On the international level, Uruguay’s parliament in late 2013 approved a bill to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana, the first country to do so.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has said Uruguay’s new bill contravened the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which requires states to limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes, due to its dependence-producing potential. The Vienna-based INCB monitors compliance with this and two other drug control treaties.

There are three drug related treaties that guide UNODC’s drug related programs. These include the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

These three major international drug control treaties are mutually supportive and complementary. An important purpose of the first two treaties is to codify internationally applicable control measures in order to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, and to prevent their diversion into illicit channels. They also include general provisions on trafficking and drug abuse.

It is expected that the 2015 World Drug Report, the yearly publication report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will focus on the spread of marijuana legalization in the U.S. and across the world.

[Image credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron]