[JURIST] The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] on Wednesday expressed concern that the legalization of marijuana by some US states is not compatible with existing international drug conventions. UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov stated [Reuters report] that the UNODC is following the legalization trend and plans to address the issue with the US State Department and other UN agencies next week. The UN international drug control treaties [materials] set standard international measures in order to ensure that narcotic and psychotropic substances remain available for medical and research purposes while preventing their spread through illegal means, and also include provisions on drug trafficking and abuse. The voicing of the agency’s concern comes at a time when many states are considering or have successfully passed legislation to allow the use of marijuana.
The legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has become a major political issue in the US with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. Earlier this month voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted to legalize [JURIST report] recreational marijuana. In September the Pennsylvania State Senate [official website] approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] signed [JURIST report] legislation [SB 2636, materials] that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana. In April the Maryland House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.