Marijuana legalisation in America: Here to Stay?

It was not long after a law was passed by the Uruguayan parliament to legalize cannabis in the country that its international legality was disputed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the United Nations’ (UN) drug-enforcement agency.  On 11 December 2013, the INCB stated that the bill contravenes the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (the Convention), just over four months after the bill passed through Uruguay’s Congress.  The fact that Uruguay is the first INCB member state to pass such legislation suggests certain implications for other countries that have signed the Convention and have political parties that are inclined to pass similar legalization.  Whether legalization has been hampered worldwide by the INCB’s announcement is yet to be seen. Colorado, a state in the United States, entered the New Year as the first jurisdiction in the US where production, distribution, and possession of cannabis are now completely legal, according to state law.  However, the federal government, a signatory to the Convention, has still not given its sanction to the state’s new law, and cannabis remains illegal under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.  On the other hand, the fact that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that they will not intervene in the state unless Colorado restricts possession and consumption of cannabis bought at Colorado’s enterprises to within the state’s borders suggests that the US government is essentially accepting the legality of its recreational use within US territory.

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