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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 1 - Introduction



In our first book on International Law and Cannabis I, a legal analysis leads us to the conclusion that the UN narcotic drugs conventions and the EU laws on drugs leave no room for legalization, decriminalization, policy-based tolerance and/or other forms of regulation of cannabis cultivation for the recreational user market. Because of the obligations for states arising from these international instruments with respect to fighting drugs, there is no room for regulating the cultivation of cannabis for supplying points-of-sale (wholesale, retail shops), in the context of so-called Cannabis Social Clubs or via other modalities involving recreational use of cannabis by third parties. This conclusion about the international drug regulations still stands as far as we are concerned.

This does not alter the fact that the above-mentioned book is limited in scope. It concerns itself only with the international drug regulations, not with the way these relate to other legal norms. At the time, there was a lot to be said for that focus and that is still the case even now, for reasons of substance and research methodology. In that respect, a perspective that had been much wider from the outset would have made it considerably more difficult to get a grip on the detailed and multi-layered subject matter of those drug regulations. However, this does not in any way imply that the wider perspective is of no relevance. In the aforementioned book, we have therefore explicitly pointed out that international human rights may be germane to the discussion about the cannabis issue – that is to say: the question whether it is legally permissible under international law to regulate cannabis cultivation and trade for the recreational use of cannabis.

That potential relevance of international human rights depends, among other things, on arguments that are presented in favour of the regulated permission of cannabis cultivation and trade. After all, opinions to that effect are oft en based on considerations that individual and public health, the safety of individuals, preventing nuisances and fighting crime would be achieved better with such tolerance than with a more prohibitive and repressive policy on drugs and/or cannabis. That is interesting from the point of view of human rights, since human rights conventions give rise to, among other things, positive obligations to protect individual and public health, the safety of citizens and to control crime.

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