Here comes the backlash: one day after Uruguay became the first
country in the world to
legalize marijuana, a United Nations drug control agency issued
press release condemning the country’s decision.
The agency, the International Narcotics Control Board,
is an independent and quasi-judicial body of the UN. It was
established in 1968, in the wake of the 1961 Single
Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty, to serve a primarily
advisory role to countries. For instance, it has been charged
with identifying “the weaknesses in national and international
[illicit drug] control systems and contribut[ing] to correcting
such situations.” So naturally, the organization remains
steadfastly opposed to drug legalization, including marijuana.
From the INCB’s 2002 annual report:
States have a moral and legal responsibility to protect drug
abusers from further self-destruction. States should not give up
and allow advocates of legalization to take control of their
national drug policies. Governments should not be intimidated by a
vocal minority that wants to legalize illicit drug use. Governments
must respect the view of the majority of lawful citizens; and those
citizens are against illicit drug use.
In response to Uruguay’s decision, the INCB
expressed “regret” and “surprise” that Uruguay’s leaders would
go against the international treaty they are a part of – and that
they would not take up the organization’s calls for a “dialogue”
before passing the law.
explained why it still opposes efforts to legalize marijuana
anywhere. According to its president, Raymond Yans, marijuana poses
serious health consequences, including addiction:
The decision of the Uruguayan legislature fails to consider its
negative impacts on health since scientific studies confirm that
cannabis is an addictive substance with serious consequences for
people’s health. Cannabis… may also affect some fundamental brain
functions, IQ potential, and academic and job performance and
impair driving skills.
Additionally, the INCB expressed its doubt that legalization
could reduce drug-related crime. The organization claims the theory
is based “on rather precarious and unsubstantiated
Uruguay’s leaders have not yet commented on the INCB’s
Another of the UN’s drug control bodies, the United Nations
Office of Drugs and Crime, which offers advisory and financial
assistance to countries’ prohibition efforts, also criticized
Uruguay’s new law. “It is unfortunate that, at a time when the
world is engaged in an ongoing discussion on the world drug
problem, Uruguay has acted ahead of the special session of the UN
General Assembly planned for 2016,” said the
drug office’s spokesman, David Hodge.
Under the legalization bill, which President Mujica championed,
the government will grow marijuana, distribute it to licensed
pharmacies, and impose a roughly $1/gram price cap. Adults will be
allowed to buy up to 40 grams (about 1.4 ounces) each month. The
bill also allows home cultivation of up to six plants.
Uruguay’s drug control agency has until mid-April to write
regulations for the new system.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/un-agency-pissed-off-that-uruguay-legali