Drug Law

Marijuana Chutzpah: United Nation’s Anti-Drug Agency Is Dopey

| by NORML

Talk about chutzpah! The United Nation’s Anti-drug agency, International Narcotic Control Board, recently attacked the Parliament-sanctioned Canadian Medical Cannabis Program, oddly looking right past Prohibition-addled but medical cannabis-friendly America. 

That’s right.

Despite the continued 73-year old federal prohibition against cannabis, with 90 million Americans currently living in 14 states and the District of Columbia that have legal protections for medical patients who use cannabis with a physician’s recommendation (and 120 million living in states where cannabis possession is decriminalized), 2,000 or more retail outlets or delivery services for medical cannabis (including 24/7 medical cannabis vending machines in California) and a federally subsidized cannabis farm that, among other projects, supplies five medical cannabis patients 300 pre-rolled ‘joints’ per month (which equates to about ten ounces per month!) for the rest of their lives in a closed, grandfathered program, the United Nation’s anti-drug agency ridiculously believes the world urgently needs to take great heed in the Canadian government’s eight-year old and largely uncontroversial medical cannabis program.

Why? Why does the United Nation’s anti-drug agency believe now is a good time to stick its unwanted nose in the national and local concerns of citizens–from The Netherlands to America to Canada to Mexico–who no longer support cannabis prohibition, most notably for medical purposes? Cannabis policy reform advocates have been readily vexed by the United Nation’s extreme anti-cannabis advocacy and propaganda since the 1970s, and arguably after America’s original drug czar Harry J. Anslinger, in his last act as a life-long anti-cannabis zealot and 30-year plus federal drug czar, he watched President John F. Kennedy commit the world and then American-dominated United Nations to America’s Reefer Madness via the signing of the Single Convention Treaty in 1961. Why would the United Nation’s attack Canada’s fairly limited medical cannabis program, where the federal government tightly controls production and distribution, yet some how not cast the same critical eye towards cannabis-tolerant America (and the near narco-state of Mexico to the south where the fields of cannabis are viewed by satellite and the federal government recently decriminalized small amounts of drugs)?

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If Canada is getting grief from the blue helmet crowd, shouldn’t the governors of New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maine be receiving the same as their states sanction medical cannabis distribution? One year after George Bush 2.0 left the White House, and with the general support and guidance provided by the Obama administration to move in a direction of greater governmental acceptance of medical cannabis, it seems unlikely that the US government is creating the institutional impetus that is encouraging the United Nations to sound like the ghost of Anslinger. What is the source of Reefer Madness at the United Nations?

UN watchdog takes aim at Canada’s medical marijuana program

By Steven Edwards, Canwest News Service February 24, 2010 UNITED NATIONS — Justice Minister Robert Nicholson said Wednesday the government’s medical marijuana regulations are under review after the UN’s drugs watchdog warned Canada needs to tighten up the system.

The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board said Canada is operating outside international treaty rules aimed at minimizing the risk criminals will get hold of cannabis grown under the program.

“The whole question of medical marijuana is being looked at by the minister of health with respect to the options that she has,” said Nicholson, whose ministry serves as the umbrella agency for the government’s anti-drug efforts. The warning in the INCB’s annual report accompanies praise for the government’s National Anti-Drug Strategy, which the board said it notes “with appreciation.” Nicholson said he took heart from that, adding it “plays very well” into the government’s efforts to push through a crime bill containing tougher drugs-offences sentencing provisions that has been held up in the Senate.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews also argued the report “provides further proof that Canada is recognized internationally as a leader in crime prevention.” Canada increased the number of cannabis cultivation licences a person can hold last year after court decisions stated patients’ earlier access had been too restricted. Currently, Health Canada has issued almost 4,900 permits allowing people to possess medical marijuana they get from more than 1,100 licensed growers, some of whom are growing it for their own use.

“Canada continues to be one of the few countries in the world that allows cannabis to be prescribed by doctors to patients with certain serious illnesses,” said the INCB report. But the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics, which Canada has signed, says the government must be the sole distributor of the otherwise illegal substance, which patients use as a pain reliever. The opportunity for misuse of the system is reflected in an RCMP review identifying 40 cases in which licensed growers were also trafficking marijuana for profit.

The same review found violations in a total of 70 cases. While the INCB report noted that Canada “intends to reassess” its access-to-cannabis program, it said the board “requests the government to respect the provisions” of the 1961 convention in conducting its review.

The sole company among the growers that Health Canada has contracted to supply some 28 per cent of the current permit holders signalled Wednesday it would welcome a more focused oversight. “We get severe criticism from the armchair critics and those who feel threatened that we’re infringing on their rights to produce cannabis,” said Brent Zettl, president of Prairie Plant Systems Inc., of Saskatoon. “But we’re already essentially conforming to the convention.”

Health Canada frequently inspects the company’s operations, and officially “owns” the cannabis it produces for shipment to clients. Even some involved in helping patients acquire the possession permits agree that the current system is flawed. “To Health Canada’s self-admittance, there are a lot of grey areas,” said Chad Clelland, director of online and community relations with medicalmarihuana.ca, an Internet-based support site. “But they are so slow to change.” Still, Clelland said he does not believe that centralized government-run production is the answer.