The elegant way to end global cannabis prohibition: Inter se modification

Countries that embrace legal regulation find themselves in breach of international law. In this video, we explain a strategy to resolve those treaty tensions and to enable progressive and sustainable change at the global level.

Around the world, a growing number of countries have realised that cannabis prohibition has done more harm than good. It has led to heavy burdens on criminal justice systems, discrimination and marginalisation of various social groups, as well as damaging impacts on public health and security.

Since the 1970s, governments around the world have begun experimenting with lenient approaches toward cannabis. A number of U.S. states decriminalised cannabis possession for personal use, followed by a "quiet revolution” of decriminalisation and of legalisation of medical cannabis in Europe and the Americas.

In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to introduce an all-encompassing system of legal regulation for cannabis use, distribution, and production. This major achievement coincided with similar victories in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, and a few years later in several more states. Canada’s bill C-45 to regulate cannabis will come into effect on October 17th, pilot projects for a regulated cannabis supply will soon start in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and several more countries are now considering to move in the same direction.

For more information:

Balancing Treaty Stability and Change: Inter se modification of the UN drug control conventions to facilitate cannabis regulation, by Martin Jelsma, Neil Boister, David Bewley-Taylor, Malgosia Fitzmaurice & John Walsh, Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) / Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) / Transnational Institute (TNI), March 2018

Regulating Cannabis in Accord with International Law: Options to Explore, presentation at the CND side event on March 16, 2018

Hearing on Bill C-45 as it relates to Canada’s international obligations, an inter se agreement on cannabis regulation would allow a group of countries to modify certain treaty provisions amongst themselves alone, by Martin Jelsma and John Walsh, at the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Meeting regarding Bill C-45 as it relates to Canada’s international obligations, April 19, 2018

INCB hearing on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes, an inter se agreement on cannabis regulation would allow a group of countries to modify certain treaty provisions amongst themselves, by David Bewley-Taylor, at the INCB Civil Society Hearing, May 7, 2018