I have been reading a document (I got off the ‘net) titled : ‘The Rise & Decline of Cannabis Prohibition’. It outlines historical issues (mostly from early 20th century) that led the world to the current prohibition regimes around Cannabis (also : Coca & Opiates) : ‘the UN single conventions on ‘narcotic drugs’ 1961′ (1972 & 1988 revisions). The original conventions were designed to ‘safeguard the welfare of mankind’ from these supposed ‘evil narcotics & addiction’. (paraphrased)
BUT the reality is that they have created : Black-markets, Organised crime & broad range of corruption. In addition it has become a burden on the finances & law enforcement of the signatory nations. Many of these nations (BUT not Aotearoa/NZ) are moving away from the original outlines to decriminalisation & legalisation/regulation (of cannabis), which are increasingly being seen as breaches of the conventions. The original champion of this prohibition regime was USA (under Harry Anslinger).. but they are now following the trend (set by Holland) to regulation & sales of cannabis for Medicinal & Recreational use in several states.
Whilst the preamble to the original convention states that ‘medicinal & scientific uses’ were supposed to be exempt from prohibition.. later revisions actually tighten this up, by saying that cannabis has ‘no known medicinal of therapeutic uses/value’. These issues are now piling up in the ‘too hard basket’. I say it is definitely time to EMPTY the basket & address the issues !!
The document closes with this summary : (open to distribution)
‘The cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, medicinal & recreational purposes since the early days of civilisation. In this report (the writers) describe in detail the history of the international control & how cannabis was included in the current UN drug control system. Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” & hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits.
Today’s political reality of regulated cannabis markets in Uruguay, Washington & Colorado operating at odds with the UN conventions puts the discussion about options for reforms of the global drug control regime on the table. Now the cracks in the Vienna consensus have reached the point of treaty breach, this discussion is no longer a reformists fantasy. Easy options, however, do not exist; they all entail procedural complications & political obstacles. A coordinated initiative by a group of like-minded countries agreeing to assess possible routes & deciding on a road-map for the future seems the most likely scenario for moving forward.
There are good reasons to question the treaty-imposed prohibition model for cannabis control. Not only is the original inclusion of cannabis within the current framework the result of dubious procedures, but the understanding of the drug itself, the dynamics of the illicit market, & the unintended consequences of repressive drug control strategies has increased enormously. The prohibitive model has failed to have any sustained impact in reducing the market, whilst imposing heavy burdens upon criminal justice systems; producing profoundly negative social & public health impacts; & creating criminal markets supporting organised crime, violence & corruption.
After long accommodating various forms of defiance from its prohibitive ethos, like turning a blind eye to illicit cannabis markets decriminalisation of possession for personal use, coffeeshops, cannabis social clubs & generous medical marijuana schemes, the regime has now reached the moment of truth. The current policy trends toward legal regulation of the cannabis market as a more promising model for protecting people’s health & safety has changed the drug policy landscape & the terms of the debate. The question facing the international community today is no longer whether or not there is need to reassess & modernize the UN drug control system, but rather when & how to do it.’
This sums it up perfectly !!
In 2016 there is a UNGASS (UN, General Assembly Special Session) scheduled to debate the current conventions & the way forward. I call on ALL activists, lobbyists & anyone else who opposes the current regimes, to stand up & be counted.. let your politicians know “WE DO NOT AGREE WITH PROHIBITION &/OR THE STATUS QUO !”