Legal Cannabis in Uruguay Shows Anti-Drug Treaty Ineffectiveness

November 26, 2013 in Top News, World News

public information discussion on cannabis

A public information discussion held in June on the legalization of marijuana in Uruguay.

Uruguay is widely expected to legalize the sale of cannabis for non-medical use with senate approval in that country this month. Implementation of the law will set up a system for cannabis distribution by a government-controlled entity. This comes despite world treaty organizations concerned with anti-drug policies.

Uruguay’s National Drugs Board plans to set the price of cannabis low enough to force drug traffickers out of business. Cannabis will be made readily available at a price of about one dollar per gram according to The Guardian. Consumer participation will require confidential enrollment in a national database to enforce a 40 gram per month limit.

“The system will be in place around mid-2014,” Board Head Julio Calzada told Uruguayan newspaper El País. “So there’ll be time to harvest and start selling.”

International agencies concerned with drug control and drug related crime have weighed-in on Uruguay’s apparent legalization intent with public statements opposing the move.

Accordingly, Dr. Raymond Yans, head of the International Narcotics Control Board, said in a statement, “Such a law would be in complete contravention to the provisions of the international drug control treaties, in particular the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to which Uruguay is a party.” Yans commented further, “The Board regrets that the government of Uruguay refused to receive an INCB mission before the draft law was submitted to parliament.”

INCB’s statement urged Uruguayan leaders to remain compliant with international law limiting use of cannabis among other substances. It warned passage of the imminent law “might have serious consequences for the health and welfare of the population and for the prevention of cannabis abuse among the youth.”

In step with INCB, the United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime has issued a statement in support of INCB’s position. UNODC published a statement that it supported the INCB statement and was continuing “to follow developments in Uruguay closely.”

They also state, “UNODC welcomes this discussion — a dialogue on how to move forward to stop drug traffickers and protect the health and welfare of people is clearly needed. But this dialogue should be conducted on the basis of the agreed conventions, in line with international law.”

Uruguay’s bold move in legalizing cannabis comes as the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption convene the fifth session of that assembly during the last week of November in Panama City, Panama. Issues related to the Uruguayan move are notably absent from the conference agenda.