Canada Must Revoke Cannabis Legalization and Uphold Its UN Treaty Obligations
Bill C-45 (the “Cannabis Act”) was adopted by the Canadian government on June 19th, 2018. This act legalizes the non-medical ("recreational") use of cannabis in Canada. It came into effect on October 17th, 2018. This makes Canada only the second nation in the world (after Uruguay) to completely decriminalize this harmful narcotic, putting youth, vulnerable groups, and entire communities at risk.
In the Canadian government’s own guide to legalization, it freely admits the dangers of cannabis: “There are real public health and safety risks associated with cannabis use, including how it affects the way young people develop.”
Former Canadian Senator Betty Unger, an opponent of cannabis legalization, posted the following chart to dispel some of the misinformation that has been propagated concerning cannabis (click to enlarge):
In response to legalization in Canada, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which has been appointed by the United Nations, states: “the legalization and regulation of cannabis by Canada for non-medical purposes cannot be reconciled with the country’s international obligations as a State Party to the drug control conventions… The Board cautions that the legalization of the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes, which is in violation of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, also undermines the international legal drug control framework and respect for the rules-based international order.” (See INCB Press Releases: June 21st, 2018 and Oct. 17th, 2018).
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) made this statement after legalization in Canada: The UNODC “regrets the Canadian legislature’s decision to legalize cannabis for non-medical use… Canada has long been an active and constructive partner in multilateral efforts to counter the world drug problem. However, as agreed by all Member States including Canada, national action to address the world drug problem should be taken in line with the three international drug control treaties, and not external to it.” (See UNODC Statement: June 21st, 2018).
The legalization of cannabis also puts Canada in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an important international human rights instrument, of which Canada is a party. Article 33 of the Convention states: “Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties...”
According to these treaties, cannabis and its by-products is a Schedule 1 narcotic, listed with cocaine and opium. It is defined as illicit when produced, sold, or used for non-medical purposes.
As a result of Canada’s violation of its international treaty obligations, we are calling on the INCB to intervene and bring this matter to the immediate attention of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The purpose of this is to apply international pressure on the Trudeau government to revoke legalization and to recommit itself to the three Narcotics Conventions it has agreed to uphold.