State Marijuana Laws Put U.S. Government On Hook, Says UN Drug Agency

Recent state initiatives to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Colorado and Washington are at odds with U.S. obligations to international drug control treaties, says the International Narcotics Control Board.
UN Photo/John Robaton

UN Photo/John Robaton

UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – Recent state initiatives to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Colorado and Washington are at odds with U.S. obligations to international drug control treaties, says the independent UN body tasked with monitoring narcotics.

The International Narcotics Control Board’s latest annual report says votes in Colorado and Washington last November to legalize the “non-medical use” of cannabis for persons 21 years and older, impose taxes on the drug and allow its sale at special stores represent a “significant challenge” to U.S. obligations to international drug control agreements.

The INCB says that as a signatory of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the United States is required to take “legislative and administrative measures as may be necessary” to limit the production and distribution of drugs within its territory to scientific and medical purposes.

“The Board stresses the importance of universal implementation of the international drug control treaties by all States parties and urges the Government of the United States to take necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties in its entire territory.” reads the annual report.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee the administration had yet to decide how it would respond to the new laws in Colorado and Washington, but said a policy decision would be announced “relatively soon.”

The International Narcotics Control Board report also voices concern about current laws that legalize “medical” cannabis in California and other states. It says California’s lack of an institutional framework to regulate the sale of medical marijuana has led to a spike in the number unregulated dispensaries and increased cannabis abuse.

“The real outcome of such a scheme has been to make cannabis more readily available for recreational purposes.” says the report, noting that 90% of patient registered with dispensaries do not present medical histories associated to medical cannabis use, and that 70% of them are under 40 years of age.

A decision last August by the Los Angeles City Council to enforce a municipal ban on cannabis dispensaries is currently being challenged before California’s Supreme Court.  The the INCB says cooperation between state officials and drug enforcement agencies has already led to the closure of nearly half of California’s  1400 cannabis dispensaries.

The INCB report also says that campaigns to promote legalization and decriminalization have decreased the perception of risks associated with the use of cannabis. It notes that the push towards normalization coincides with growing cannabis use amongst teenagers, citing a 2011 study by the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Drug Abuse that found the prevalence of abuse by U.S. high school students increased for the third consecutive year.

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Ellen Ratner
Ellen Ratner is the White House Correspondent and Bureau Chief for The Talk Radio News Service, covering the White House and providing exclusive reports to talk radio stations from the Congress and government agencies. In addition, she is a credentialed reporter at the United Nations in New York where Talk Radio News Service has a bureau. Ms. Ratner is a news analyst on The Fox News Channel where she is currently seen on “The Strategy Room” and is heard on over 400 radio stations across the United States. She was the only talk show host granted two interviews with President Bill Clinton. Ms. Ratner helped to develop the concept of “radio rows” with the first large one held at the White House in 1993. In addition, she has trained many groups in use of radio, television and Internet media. Her latest book, Ready, Set, Talk! A Guide to Getting Your Message Heard by Millions on Talk Radio, Talk Television, and Talk Internet, was published in July 2006. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Ratner graduated from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. She earned a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University. Follow Ellen on Twitter @ellenratner
  • Jillian Galloway

    It was the will of the American people that legalized marijuana in CO and WA and it was the will of the American people that gave President Obama a second term. He can’t now nullify one without severely undermining the legitimacy of the other! 

    In the seventy years since the launch of the marijuana prohibition we’ve learned a few important things: 1.) The prohibition absolutely does NOT stop people using marijuana. 2.) The prohibition causes FAR more harm than what it prevents. 3.) The prohibition fuels organized crime and makes children LESS safe. 

    It is fundamentally WRONG for the government to continue any policy that causes more harm than good! We have to put the safety of our children FIRST and demand that they legalize marijuana like beer and wine.

    • Conlan Shaw

      and if the plant is legalised it will be safer for users because they will be using safe government buds with no risk of being laced with dangerouse drugs as opposed to buying it on the streets

      • Jillian Galloway

        Exactly! Just like alcohol is today. Children will be far safer when stores can sell legally-grown, government regulated cannabis to adults at prices low enough to prevent illegal competition. 

    • Jose

      Not to mention marijuana got a higher percentage of the votes in Colorado than Obama.

  • Alan E. Mason

    Oooooh, we should really be scared now. Look at what the UN has done to stop the bloodshed in Syria, we should be shaking in our boots at their power.

    • Jose

      Syria is busy kidnapping UN bastards.  I wonder if they are pissed at the war on marijuana too.

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