UN Committee on Cannabis: Legalization and Regulated Market Violate UN Convention

UN Committee on Cannabis: Legalization and Regulated Market Violate UN Convention

UN Committee on Cannabis: Legalization and Regulated Cannabis Market

Marijuana, cannabis, grow room – illustration photo

Prague – The legalization or introduction of a regulated cannabis market is contrary to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to which the Czech Republic has committed itself. Decriminalization and mitigation of sentences does not violate the convention. This follows from the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which monitors compliance with UN conventions. INCB member Pavel Pachta presented the document today in Prague. In the Czech Republic, it is planned to introduce a regulated cannabis market with strict conditions, the state would receive tax revenues. The bill is being prepared by the national anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil. According to him, the 1961 convention is outdated.

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“In some countries – and the Czech Republic is an example of this, certain activities are being decriminalized. In addition to decriminalization, decriminalization is also appearing. ICNB emphasizes this concept. Although certain activities remain illegal, the police and possibly the prosecutor's office are given the right to tolerate them,” stated Pachta.

According to the report, over the past ten years, the number of cannabis users has increased by 23 percent worldwide. The document mentions states that have liberalized the market. In some countries, cannabis is sold under strict rules in pharmacies, in others the model is commercial with advertising. “On the one hand we have conventions and on the other a clear trend towards legalization. We have a contradiction here,” said Pachta. According to him, the INCB will discuss the procedure with government representatives, and in the last decade it has been emphasized at the meetings that “the convention contains flexibility” in setting the rules in individual countries. It concerns, for example, the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use without sanctions.

According to Vobořil, the 62-year-old convention is based mainly on repression. “That convention is from 1961. It promised a drug-free world, it failed. How many 1961 laws do we have today?” said the coordinator. According to him, according to scientific findings, the anti-drug policy is changing, the emphasis is also on prevention. “The report confronts us with what we should do and what we are trying to do. We are looking for the legal model. The prohibition model is not even healthy. It is necessary to explain to the public and politicians that the intention is not to relax it, but to look for another type of solution,” Vobořil said. He added that even if the Czech Republic withdraws from the convention, it is bound by European law.

According to the INCB report, it is difficult to assess the effects of legalization in its short period of time. Moreover, the approach varies from country to country and liberalization has not solved the main problems, namely the growth of consumption, organized crime or use among young people. While the black market has shrunk, it has been replaced by an expanding legal cannabis industry, the document says. According to Vobořil, the results from the Netherlands show that the share of young users has dropped significantly. Experience from other countries indicates that there are also fewer traffic accidents and domestic violence under the influence of alcohol.

The Czech Republic has had its representative in the INCB since last year. He was nominated by the government after the resignation of one of the members. Vobořil described obtaining the post of Czech expert as a success for the Czech Republic. In the past, the Czech candidate failed. According to Vobořil, the INCB represents a conservative and strict institution. Pachta confirmed that in the Czech Republic the committee is perceived as a “very conservative, even reactionary” body.