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Legalization and the UN Drug Treaties -- A Minor Obstacle at Worst

I have criticized the ease with which some media outlets and even some reformers have accepted the argument made by prohibitionist advocates that courts are certain to overturn the Washington and Colorado marijuana legalization initiatives, or their regulatory systems at least, based on federal supremacy. Most legal scholars in the news have expressed skepticism that a preemption challenge of the laws, as it's called, would succeed, though we can't know for sure until and unless that goes through the courts.

Another argument that's been made is that legalization would violate US obligations as signatories to the UN's international drug control treaties, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and two others. While it's not clear that state legalization existing alongside continuing federal prohibition including those states would violate the treaties, the argument is somewhat more tenable with respect to the possibilities of federal legalization or even of federal exceptions to prohibition in those states. My understanding of the treaties is that they discourage but do permit legal drug possession (given a public health system in place for addressing drug abuse), but not legal production and sales excepting medicine and research.

How easy would this to be address? Pretty easy. Bolivia did it this year. That nation has had problems with the treaty ban on coca growing, even for traditional purposes (purposes other than cocaine) as has been done in Bolivia for thousands of years. Attempts to enforce the ban through US-backed eradication programs have fomented civil instability, ultimately leading to a backlash in which a coca grower and indigenous leader, Evo Morales, won the presidency in 2006. (Shameless promotional fact: Morales's vice-president, Álvaro García Linera, spoke at our 2003 conference.)

What happened is that the Morales administration sought a modification to the Single Convention to address the coca issue, but was rebuffed. So late last year, they withdrew from it. Then they announced they would rejoin the treaty on January 1, but with "reservations" stating their non-participation with respect to the coca provision. If one third of member nations object to Bolivia's readmission to the treaty -- by the end of this year, if I'm not mistaken -- they can be prevented from rejoining it, and potentially have problems in some regulatory areas. But other countries would suffer problems from that as well, and it is unlikely.

The US could do that too. Or, and better, we could seek the revision of the treaties to permit legalization. The US would be powerful enough to pull that off, and the rest of the world is mostly concerned with their own interests and are not clamoring for the continuation of marijuana prohibition in the US in any case.

One way or another, it will be pretty easy to handle the drug treaties, once the political will exists here to enact legalization under our own laws. The treaties are a valid issue, but not a difficult one to surmount.

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"President" Bush called our

"President" Bush called our Constitution a "God damned piece of paper".

Needless to say, that's what we should think of the UN treaties.

Consider also, that Senate Republicans refused to vote to sign a UN treaty designed to globally improve the quality of lives for the disabled. They cried possible UN interference in American policy as their reason. It's interesting how they let the UN interfere with other aspects of our country's policies.

Here, I have described the hypocrisy regarding how we deal with the UN.

It's an open and shut case. Ignore the treaty for the worthless piece of paper it is. Problem solved.

Response from prohibitionists to all my arguments are as follows: "waaaaah waaah waaah money money waaah children".


P.S. I hate the Democrats too, I am equal opportunity.

Drug War Fascism

The International Drug War Prison Industrial Complex has a "treaty" that guarantees Fascism?! Wow, convenient or WHAT?! Hey, Guido; take the Canoli! Bada Bing, Bada Boom!! More prisons, more guns, more safety, eh?! We gonna ARM our way to a National Socialist Utopia!! How 'bout some more Reefer Madness, eh? Nothing is Fascist like American Drug Screening!! Americans have the PUREST PEE on the FACE of the EARTH!! Fascism NEVER rolls over for "democracy;" you pee in zee cup, Untermenschen, and screw your referendums!  Sig Heil!! 

Vote Libertarian if you want

Vote Libertarian if you want real change
Carl Olsen's picture

I agree

The International treaties can be, and have been amended. The U.S. got them amended for THC in 1991, of all things.  You are on the right track, Mr. Borden.

The "treaty" is illegitimate

There is nothing sacred about treaties (they are made and discarded all of the time), and there is no legitimacy to a treaty that requires the Federal government to assume powers that were not delegated to it by the people of the several States.

Prohibitionist Lies!

Here are some Prohibitionist Lies (refuted with Facts) you'll be hearing.

Lie #1 Gateway Drug.
FACT Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug. Here's a 12 Yr Univ. Study that says so;.
Andrew Hryckowian - University of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Raven-... Marijuana is not a.
“gateway” drug.

Lie #2 Marijuana is addictive.
FACT Marijuana is no more addictive and less harmful than Caffeine;.
Dr Henningfield is a former NIDA Staffer;.
  Addictiveness of Marijuana -

Lie #'s 3 & 4, Marijuana has no Medicinal Use and is Dangerous.

FACT In 1988, a DEA Administrative judge wrote, in a report.
Commissioned by the DEA; "16. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of.
the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any
measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a
supervised routine of medical care."”

FACT For good measure, the CDC reported Med Marijuana doesn't increase teen use.

It's time to endthis fiasco. Quit playing this stupid game. We are free Americans. Not some children to be coddled and told about 'the boogey man.'

Anyone in the United States with half a brain sees what a horrible hoax has been carried on since 1937.

Stop locking people up for a plant that could possibly save the US economy. Not to mention its medicinal values. We may be on the cusp of huge breakthroughs in the field of medicine ...completely unlike 'big pharma' who have been killing thousands of our citizens per year.


White man treaties?

When have they ever honored any of their treaties?


Why would they start Now.


Texas Cannabis Party :-)

We got a Bi-guy, why not a RedMan for Governor?

Or even a Purple one?


The white man has never honored any of their treaties, why would they start Now?


Texas Cannabis Party

All thats required to

All thats required to withdraw from the STC is a written notice to the UN 6 months before withdrawal,,the six months waiting period was so the US could send a representative with a checkbook to buy the country back into the fold,,,think how much money we save when we quit footing the bill for the world to dance to our tune.


Been a while since I read them, but I'm sure the convention on psychotropic substances contains exemptions for member states who constitutions do not permit prohibition.

I'm not 100% sure how that would work in the USA with state/national constitutions, but provided its done by amending that document the UN probably won't have much to say about it.

Since the removal of the CSA

Since the removal of the CSA or 61' U.N. law automatically destroys the drug black market, then its right to assume that the CSA and U.N. law is the same thing as a drug black market (since it also creates such markets).  The CSA and U.N. law is a threat to national security as seen in 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan and it's a threat to the securities of other nations as seen in the Philippines, England, Russia, Iraq, Pakistan, India, France, Spain, Germany, China, Afghanistan, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc etc.  Since terrorist make their money off the drug black market and use the money to attack America and other nations those nation's armies and since the drug black market is the exact same thing as the CSA and U.N. Law, then it's logical to assume that the law exists for terrorist to make money off, which would nullify the above laws.

UN Single Convention Treaty

LATEST UPDATE: PLEASE PROMOTE WITHOUT DELAY! This petition is over a day old and has 21 signatures, the threshold for this petition to be "publicly searchable" is 150 signatures so the urgency now is to get 129 more signatures to reach that threshold.


There were 173,185 signatures (combined there may be duplicates) on the three petitions that were responded to from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The one I signed was to Federally Legalize Marijuana which started 11/8/12 - after the election and specifically mentioned the voter results from the states of Washington and Colorado, that petition received 44,049 signatures before it was closed. Each of those three did indeed require legislative action to accomplish the substance of the petitions.

What is unique about this current petition is that it lists specific actions that can be taken by the Executive branch WITHOUT legislation. 

Again, please don't delay to sign ASAP and promote with URGENCY of the deadline of 2/10/13 to have 25,000 signatures!

UN Single Convention Treaty


If we want to legalize Cannabis anywhere, we have to start where Harry Anslinger ended his crusade, at the UN! The only way for us to get through the UN is through the US Ambassador who is hired by and works for the President of the United States. 

The last major accomplishment of Harry Anslinger was to push through the UN Single Convention Treaty on Controlled Substances. They tell us we can't change the US Congress Controlled Substances Act because of this UN Treaty. Marijuana/Cannabis what every you want to call it won't become LEGALIZED until we change this treaty, the first step toward LEGALIZATION will be to open up this UN TREATY!

GO SIGN NOW: WE HAVE UNTIL 2/10/13 TO OBTAIN AT LEAST 25,000 Signatures! Promote this link!

The root of prohibition

This International Treaty seems to be the root of prohibition. When enough people realize this and pressure the administration to modify it, we can join many western hemisphere countries that want the                                        WAR ON DRUGS TO END.


Whenever I get a response from my elected representatives they always say: Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug.


This treaty is why it's in schedule 1, so changing it deserves our efforts. It's an uphill battle but we must be relentless in our quest to tear down the foundation of pot prohibition.

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