Party Poopers United

Anti-cannabis forces coalesce in unlikely coalition


If you're a regular reader of this column, you most likely share the general opinion of its author, who finds little to no downside to the broader trend of decriminalizing cannabis around this country. There have certainly been skeptics, and their concerns are voluminous. I've explored the issue exhaustively, from all sides and, personally, I remain firmly in the pro-cannabis camp, for countless reasons. But do you know who's not at all in the pro-cannabis camp? The United Nations.

Yes, that United Nations. Its International Narcotics Board (which would be a great name for a gang, and it may already be) recently released its 2017 annual report, and it is most keen to pooh-pooh global decriminalization trends, linking it to the ongoing drug-related violence raging across the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere.

The report singled out Uruguay and Jamaica for what it depicts as violations of the infamous Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the first of three conferences (followed in 1971 and 1988) that codified the list of drugs to be subject to prohibitions by member nations. As always, the developing world bears the brunt of blame for a global trade sustained by First World consumers in the U.S. and Europe, and made worse by faulty law-enforcement protocols.

While its analysis of the global situation is both exhaustive and fairly astute, the UN falls into the same trap that conservatives have domestically, as far as failing to distinguish between the social impact of cannabis and other drugs, particularly in terms of violence. The UN seems to feel the entire global drug trade is centralized, with all substances being run through the same traffic corridors by the same people-which is ridiculous and easily disproved in any selected sample group.

Mind you, none of this is legally binding, any more than any of the UN's other typically toothless admonitions, but it provides a patina of officiality for drug warriors like the Philippines' Duterte. For example, no mention is made of the singularly important role played by our invasion of Afghanistan in what's now euphemized as
"the Opioid Crisis," a point that must be explicitly stated as preface to any reasonable solutions. The UN has resisted all efforts to remove cannabis from its list, and the recent report suggests it's not budging any time soon.

I avoided quoting the thing directly, because UN reports are famously turgid, textually; it's like transcribing a guy with Tourette's doing slam poetry, or Trump doing anything. But policy wonks and insomniacs take note: The full report is available at incb.org, and it'll help put you to sleep faster than almost any substance listed there.

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