Global Coalition Attempts to Change UN Policy on Medical Marijuana

A global coalition was recently assembled in an attempt to persuade the United Nations to consider the total elimination of its decades-long ban on medical marijuana. Earlier last week, just as the 58th annual Commission on Narcotic Drugs was set to get underway in Vienna, marijuana activists from 13 countries banded together to form the International Medical Cannabis Patient Coalition in hopes of facilitating the reform of global drug laws.

While the concept of medical marijuana has certainly come a long way in the past twenty years, the United Nations has not shown much interest in amending the treaties of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which made cannabis a global pariah. However, IMCPC intends to force the hand of change in the near future. The group has introduced a resolution, which recommends that the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) either downgrade the classification of cannabis, giving it more flexibility in regards to research, or remove it from the language of international drug treaties altogether.

“The UN policy on cannabis is outdated and at odds with its mission concerning human rights, and the right to adequate health care in particular,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access and co-founder of IMCPC.

“For centuries, we have known about and utilized the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant,” she explained. “Scientific studies conducted over the past three decades affirm the therapeutic value of cannabis and should form the basis of international and domestic policies.”

While the latest mission to liberate cannabis from the confines of global law may appear, at least at face value, to be a long shot down an extremely darkened path, a push for worldwide drug reform is expected to be a major topic of discussion during next year’s UNGASS summit in New York. Last year, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a detailed report damning the failure of international drug policies, while begging world leaders to consider the legalization and regulation of illicit substances in an effort to sever the head of the War on Drugs. The report argued that prohibition is a waste of tens of billions of dollars every year and a harsh destructor of worldwide economies.

That being said, it is reasonable to consider that marijuana could be a major focal point when the UNGASS summit convenes in 2016. However, time is of the essence. All proposals for the next session must first be addressed at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs before March 13. Reports indicate that IMCPC’s declaration will be delivered to officials in Vienna before the deadline at the end of the week.

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