By allowing Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. voters to legalize limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, the United States has violated United Nations conventions. That’s the gripe from the head of the U.N. director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, who says he plans to take official actions.
“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” Fedotov told reporters this week.
The complaint is one that surfaced in 2012 when Washington and Colorado passed respective laws allowing adults 21 and up to use cannabis recreationally. At the time, some pointed out that the new laws violated U.N. drug treaties going back fifty years or so. The laws – from 1961 – basically say that marijuana legalization must only be done for medical purposes because marijuana can be addictive.
But despite complaints from U.N. officials in 2012, nothing was done.
But Fedotov may have a point. Since Colorado and Washington began relaxing their laws, several other countries have begun relaxing their cannabis laws – notably Uruguay, which allows adults to cultivate and use small amounts. The U.N. has also hemmed and hawed over Uruguay’s law changes as well, but it’s mostly been grandstanding. Even former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica called them a bunch of do-nothing meddlers. Jamaica is also moving forward with decriminalization measures. Even Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance agrees that Fedotov may have a point – he says the conventions themselves are meaningless.
Nadelmann points to recent federal directives that have allowed marijuana laws to move forward as a sign that the U.S. and the rest of the world need to abandon marijuana policies created during the Cold War.
“It doesn’t make any difference,” Nadelmann told Fox News. “Fedotov is going through the motions…. but the decision’s already been made.”