UN Unhappy with U.S., Uruguay

The UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 is one of the chief obstacles to ending drug prohibition.

The International Narcotics Control Board is "concerned" about the spread of marijuana legalization in the United States adn Uruguay. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 was meant to prevent such developments.

A total of 183 countries have signed on to the treaty, which "aims to combat drug abuse by coordinated international action." This includes limiting "the possession, use, trade in, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production exclusively to medical and scientific purposes" and to "deter and discourage drug traffickers."

In its 2013 report, the INCB writes: "The Board is concerned that a number of States that are parties to the 1961 Convention are considering legislative proposals intended to regulate the use of cannabis for purposes other than medical and scientific ones… The Board wishes to reiterate that the 1961 Convention limits the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes within the strict conditions set forth in the Convention.

"The Board therefore urges all Governments and the international community to carefully consider the negative impact of such developments. In the Board’s opinion, the likely increase in the abuse of cannabis will lead to an increase in related public health costs."

This refers to Colorado and Washington, which legalized marijuana in 2012, and Illinois, New Hampshire and Maryland, which passed medical-marijuana legislation in 2013. The INCB reminds: "The Controlled Substances Act, however, continues to prohibit cannabis production, trafficking and possession, listing cannabis in its Schedule I, which contains substances having a high potential for abuse and no scientifically proven medical value and for which there is a lack of acceptance that the drug can be safely used under medical supervision."

Since the report was written last year, it's not totally up to date. The Board "notes with concern" Urauguay's plan to legalize marijuana and create state-run cultvation and sales, which was signed by Pres. Mujica in December.

Meanwhile, the Board lauds the Netherlands for implementing "stricter policies towards 'co€ffeeshops'," referring to the effort to restrict marijuana tourism by banning foreigners from visiting the shops (border cities like Maastricht have complied).

Cannada also gets a UN thumb's-up for "the country’s comprehensive overhaul of regulations governing its 'medical cannabis' scheme, which includes the phasing out of production of cannabis for personal use and the bolstering of measures to prevent the diversion of cannabis into illicit channels."

Regarding international hash production, the Board reports: "Morocco, together with Afghanistan, continues to be the biggest source of cannabis resin in the world, especially for the illicit markets of Western and Central Europe, but production in Morocco is decreasing."

Nigeria leads Africa with the "largest volume of cannabis herb seizures," according to the INCB.

In the Caribbean, "Jamaica reportedly continues to be the largest supplier of cannabis to the United States; however, some amounts of the drug are also smuggled to Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also are major marijuana producers in the region.

Several countries have officially made "declarations and reservations" about the treaty, including Bolivia and Nepal. Uruguay likely wiil soon be added to this list. Perhaps the U.S. will follow with its own "reservations."

The Single Convention is one of the chief obstacles to ending drug prohibition. All drug schedules are listed in the treaty. The INCB consists of 13 countries. Raymond Yans from Belgium is the president. David T. Johnson represents the U.S. on the Board.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.