Following the passage of cannabis legalization measures in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia on election day, the chief of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Nov. 12 issued his requisite scolding. UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov told reporters, “I don’t see how [the new laws] can be compatible with existing conventions.” He added that he plans to address the issue with the US State Department and other UN agencies. He admitted that the legalization measures are part of a global trend that the UNODC is monitoring.
The UN drug control apparatus has similarly lectured Colorado and Washington states over their legalization initiatives that passed in 2012, as well as Uruguay after its legalization law was approved in 2013. The UN drug control treaties are under pressure not only from cannabis legalization measures in the US and South America but also from Bolivia, where President Evo Morales is pressing the right to grow and chew coca leaf for traditional and medicinal purposes. Activists increasingly accuse the UN of “meddling” in domestic and local policies.