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INCB continues to speak out against the legalization of adult cannabis use



Photo: DR

The legalization of adult cannabis use is a trend that has attracted the attention of the United Nations (UN) as it poses a significant challenge to its drug control conventions. In your last report: UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)) charts the impact of cannabis legalization on global illicit drug markets and how drug use is changing. The first chapter of the report focuses on cannabis and makes some significant criticisms of legal cannabis models.

The INCB report highlights the rapid expansion of the cannabis industry and other commercial interests that have lifted controls on the use of cannabis for commercial profit. This has led to the normalization and trivialization of their consumption, resulting in reduced perceptions of harm associated with consumption. The normalization effect represents a growing challenge to UN drug conventions, especially the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics, which advocates “punishable offences” for so-called “recreational use”.

The INCB recognizes that decriminalization and decriminalization approaches can be considered consistent with the drug conventions, as long as they respect the obligation to limit drug use to medical and scientific purposes and remain within certain limits established by the conventions. However, rather than legalizing recreational cannabis, the UN leadership advocates alternative sanctions and better education and prevention programs to reduce the burden on criminal justice systems, while protecting young people, the health and well-being of the humanity.

The INCB report also criticizes jurisdictions that have already legalized the adult use of cannabis for failing to protect young people from associated marketing. Calls for more communication efforts to address the decreasing perception of harm resulting from cannabis use.

Although the INCB recognizes the potential benefits of decriminalization, it ends up pronouncing (once again) against the legalization of recreational cannabis. The normalizing effect and impact on young people makes it a significant challenge to UN conventions on drug control. Watch the video of the INCB report presentation session.


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