The status of cannabis in the UN drug conventions is controversial. It is now scheduled among the most dangerous substances. How and why did cannabis in the conventions? Does it belong there? What are the options to review the status of cannabis according to current scientific data? Is making cannabis subject to a control regime similar to harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco a solution?
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  • Marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international drug treaties

    Wells Bennett and John Walsh
    Brookings Center for Effective Public Management
    October 2014

    Two U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, and more may follow; the Obama administration has conditionally accepted these experiments. Such actions are in obvious tension with three international treaties that together commit the United States to punish and even criminalize activity related to recreational marijuana. The administration asserts that its policy complies with the treaties because they leave room for flexibility and prosecutorial discretion.

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  • A puff of logic

    Genes, cannabis and schizophrenia. Correlation is not necessarily causation
    The Economist (UK)
    Saturday, June 28, 2014

    That cannabis and schizophrenia are linked is widely accepted. Several studies suggest the drug can set off short-term psychotic episodes in those already suffering from the condition. Other research, though, does more than this. It shows that people with schizophrenia are twice as likely as others to use cannabis. This leads some to argue that the drug is actually a cause of schizophrenia rather than just a trigger—a line of evidence sometimes employed by those who wish to keep it illegal.

  • How neuroscience reinforces racist drug policy

    The seemingly objective science of neuroimaging can be used to justify a moral argument for or against legal marijuana
    Nathan Greenslit
    The Atlantic (US)
    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    A recent neuroscience study from Harvard Medical School claims to have discovered brain differences between people who smoke marijuana and people who do not. Such well-intentioned and seemingly objective science is actually a new chapter in a politicized and bigoted history of drug science in the United States. Different-looking brains tell us literally nothing about who these people are, what their lives are like, why they do or do not use marijuana, or what effects marijuana has had on them.

  • Cannabis regulation: high time for change?

    Rebecca Coombes
    BMJ (UK)
    Wednesday, May 21, 2014

    Cannabis is the world’s most widely used illicit drug. But for how much longer? In a short space of time we have moved from absolute global prohibition of the drug, with the emergence of legalised and regulated production and retail not in just one nation (Uruguay) but also, surprisingly, in two US states (Colorado and Washington). Do these and other new permissive models in Spain and Belgium, for example, point to a tipping point in the debate? Could cannabis step out of the shadows and join the ranks of alcohol and tobacco, the world’s most popular legal and regulated drugs?

  • Marijuana legalization: Does Congress need to act?

    Graham Boyd, Sarah Trumble and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky
    Third Way (US web)
    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Despite a federal prohibition on marijuana possession, sale, and use, Colorado and Washington recently became the first states to enact laws legalizing the recreational use of this drug. Although the Obama Administration has taken steps to attempt to deal with this evolving situation, we believe the status quo is untenable and Congress must act to provide certainty and a framework for these states moving forward. This report explains the problem and offers a solution.

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  • The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition

    The History of Cannabis in the UN Drug Control System and Options For Reform
    Dave Bewley-Taylor Tom Blickman Martin Jelsma
    Transnational Institute / Global Drug Policy Observatory
    March 2014

    The cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, medicinal and recreational purposes since the early days of civilization. In this report the Transnational Institute and the Global Drug Policy Observatory describe in detail the history of international control and 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” and hardly any therapeutic value.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF 5MB)
    application-pdfRésumé en français (PDF)
    application-pdfDownload the press release (PDF)

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  • Cannabis policy in the Netherlands

    Moving forwards not backwards
    Transform Policy Brief
    March 2014

    Misunderstandings and misreporting of actual and proposed changes to Dutch cannabis policy in 2011 have led some opponents of cannabis reform to suggest the country is retreating from its longstanding and pragmatic policy of tolerating the possession, use and sale of cannabis. This is not the case. In reality, most of the more regressive measures have either not been implemented, have been subsequently abandoned, or have had only marginal impacts.

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  • Multinational overview of cannabis production regimes

    Beau Kilmer, Kristy Kruithof, Mafalda Pardal, Jonathan P. Caulkins & Jennifer Rubin
    RAND Europe
    December 2013

    The vast majority of countries are signatories to international treaties that prohibit the production, distribution and possession of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific purposes. The treaties have not changed in nearly 25 years, but laws and policies pertaining to cannabis have changed in some countries. Several jurisdictions have reduced the penalties for possessing cannabis for personal use (and in some places even for home cultivation), making the maximum penalty a fine and/or participating in some type of diversion programme or community sentence. Some jurisdictions have taken more dramatic steps and changed their laws and practices with respect to producing and distributing cannabis.

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  • Infographic: How will Uruguay's regulation of cannabis work?

    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    On December 10, 2013, the General Assembly of Uruguay approved a law that made the country the first one in the world to fully regulate the cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis for medical, industrial as well as recreational purposes. This infographic gives a short overview of the main aspects of the new law.

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  • Infographic: Why is Uruguay regulating; not criminalising cannabis?

    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    "The approval of regulation under state control in Uruguay marks a tipping point in the failed war against drugs. The trend is becoming irreversible: the era of a globally enforced cannabis prohibition regime is drawing to a close," says Martin Jelsma in a press release welcoming the approval of the law on December 10, 2013. The new law makes Uruguay the first country in the world to fully regulate the cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis for medical, industrial as well as recreational purposes. This infographic gives a quick summary of the reasons why Uruguay is regulating cannabis.

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