WITH an increasing number of countries seeking to end prohibition and introduce regulated cannabis markets a new paper identifies ways to do this without violating international drug laws.
In enacting its recreational cannabis market in 2018, the Canadian government was deemed to have contravened the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (SCND) of 1961.
Similarly, Uruguay, the first country to follow this path, cited human rights protections to allow its alleged violation of the Convention – and it was subsequently threatened with sanctions by the International narcotics (INCB).
However, a respected cannabis researcher and author Kenzi Riboulet-Zemoulibelieves that there is leeway in the Convention to allow countries to follow a compliant path.
A deep dive
He sets out his case in a new paper entitled ‘High compliance, a Lex Lata legalization for the non-medical cannabis industry‘.
Talk to companiesCan he said: “The war on drugs, launched in the 1970s, helped to peddle the myth that the prohibition of cannabis is enshrined in treaty law and is impossible to avoid.
“However, this new research takes an in-depth look at the 1961 Convention and examines how it was drafted, highlighting a pathway to legal markets for adult use.
“I believe it is possible to develop a policy for the use of cannabis products by adults that combats drug abuse, protects human rights and is consistent with international drug treaties. “
Although the document closely analyzes the text of the 1961 SCND – the world’s leading treaty for the control of cannabis – it also examines the preparatory work of the treaty and the records of its drafting discussions to better understand the spirit of its authors.
Two types of cannabis
Although the treaty does not recognize the terms “recreational use” or “adult use”, it delineates two classes of cannabis, namely: “medical and scientific” (MSP) and other than medical and scientific (OMSP).
And it is in the second category of cannabis – OMSP – that Mr. Riboulet-Zemouli thinks there is scope for nation states to introduce programs aimed at adults.
Article 2(9) of the SCND sets out two conditions for compliance with the Cannabis OMSP, namely the application of effective measures to reduce the misuse and potential harm of cannabis products.
And, second, annual reports to the INCB on the amount of OMSP cannabis traded.
This caveat was recently used by Maltawhose Adult Use Act is framed as establishing an industry for “other than medical and scientific purposes” in the context of harm reduction – an echo of the two conditions of Article 2(9).
Barcelona-based Mr Riboulet-Zemouli added: “I think the OMSP caveat was included by the SCND editors to allow some flexibility for future interpretation.”
Absent prohibition references
He supports this position by emphasizing the absence of a ban on almost all dialogue and discussions during the drafting of the convention.
The document underscores this when it says, “The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was drafted before the ‘war on drugs’ even began.
“During the negotiations in 1961, the American representative and follower of the prohibition of cannabis Harry Anslingerleft the room; the USSR ambassador defended that “the ban should only take the form of a recommendation”.
“The People’s Republic of China and half of Africa were not even present; and the remaining countries replaced all references to “cannabis prohibition” with “cannabis control”; they also inserted clear flexibilities, directly exempting non-medical use and related activities.
“The drafters discussed the concept of cannabis intoxication without any particular problem and knew that it would continue, legally, without any problem.
A clear path
“The SCND is not a ‘war on drugs’ or a prohibitionist treaty. It is his interpretation that is prohibitionist.
In its conclusion, the document indicates that to align with the SCND, a country will have to comply with the two main points of Article 2(9) as well as maintain separate sectors, medical and non-medical – cannabis for adult use and industrial hemp -. .
Mr. Riboulet-Zemouli added: “Gaps in the history of the drug control conventions and the current hegemony of a particular interpretation – articulated around prohibition – have perhaps impacted our frameworks of interpretation and distanced legal research from the study of these exemptions for non-medical uses, purposely added to the treaty.
“This extensive research paves the way for nation states to move forward with national rule changes without fear of breaching the main cannabis law, the SCND of 1961.”
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