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Last week, the U.N. ant-narcotics chief, Yury Fedotov, made headlines when Reuters reported he said moves by American states to end the prohibition on marijuana were illegitimate due to existing international drug conventions. He added that he may take action against these states as well.
The drug conventions mentioned by Fedotov are the 1961 convention on narcotic drugs. This 50+ year old agreement limits the production and consumption of cannabis to only medical purposes. So, the dozens of states that have passed medical marijuana laws are still in compliance. However, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and D.C. passed laws through ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational use. These are the cases that caught the attention of Fedotov. “I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” said Fedotov.
But what can the U.N. do to fight this? Luckily not much. In response to question about what the U.N. could do about it, Fedotov stated he would discuss the issue in the near future in Washington.
While Fedotov and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) may have no real ability to combat these moves, the hubris alone is overwhelming. To think an international governmental organization like the U.N. can change the policies enacted by individual states in America is frightening. Marijuana prohibition should not be a responsibility of a international governing body. In fact, it should not even be a concern of the federal government.
The actions taken by these states do fly in the face of U.N. drug conventions; they are also inconsistent with federal law. Fortunately for liberty advocates, the federal government has condoned these moves in order to avoid conflict and potential political fallout. Individual states have been allowed the freedom to craft their own recreational drug policies. This, however, does not rule out a reversal on this position in the future.
Hopefully nothing will materialize from all of this. The U.N. should take a lesson from the federal government on this matter and keep its nose out of the business of these states.