Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: December 2012

4 - Cannabis, soft defection and regime weakening

Summary

The international community may wish to review the issue of cannabis.

INCB, Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2008

The World Drug Report 2008, the last World Drug Report to be published before the HLS and UNGASS review, estimated that in 2006–7 there were 165.6 million cannabis users globally with annual prevalence remaining consistently high relative to other illicit drugs within most state Parties to the conventions. While use of the drug is technically prohibited in almost every nation, experimentation with or regular casual use of cannabis is a routine part of experience in many states. Although, and in many ways because, worldwide use remained high under the extant treaty framework, the years following 1998 witnessed an increasingly widespread divergence in approach between the actions of nation states and the prohibitive norm at the core of the international system. Changing attitudes towards cannabis users and the resultant policy shifts in favour of processes commonly described as ‘decriminalization’ and ‘depenalization’ provided prominent, although not exhaustive, examples of soft defection from and hence a weakening of the GDPR. After a period of relative policy stability during the 1990s, increasing numbers of Parties to the conventions began to apply alternative measures to criminal prosecution for cases concerning drug use and possession of small quantities of drugs for personal consumption. This corresponded in some ways to deviation from the regime’s prohibitive norm via growing engagement with the harm reduction approach. The functionality of interventions such as NSPs and particularly DCRs is clearly predicated upon a non-punitive response to the possession of, primarily, injectable opiates for personal use. In terms of the sheer scale of prevalence, however, varieties of cannabis use (both recreational and what was defined as medicinal) emerged as a significant point of tension between the prohibitive spirit of the conventions, including the particularly stringent controls levied on the drug within their schedules, and the less punitive policies implemented by national, and in some cases sub-national, governing authorities. In some instances, this process was part of a broader shift in national policy towards a more pragmatic health-oriented and a generally harm reductionist approach. Nonetheless, the relaxation of punitive cannabis control laws must be considered as a separate, if connected, process. After all some countries have, or are considering, the relaxation of legal responses to drug possession for personal use without actively engaging with harm reduction interventions relating to IDU.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
UNODCWorld Drug Report 2008ViennaUnited Nations 2008
Kendall, R.Cannabis Condemned: The Proscription of Indian HempAddiction 98 2003 143
Ballotta, D.A Cannabis Reader: Global Issues and Local Experiences,LuxembourgPublications Office of the European Union 2009
Bruun, K.The Gentlemen’s Club: International Control of Drugs and AlcoholUniversity of Chicago Press 1975
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2001New YorkUnited Nations 2002
Boister, N.Penal Aspects of the UN Drug ConventionsThe Hague, London, BostonKluwer International 2001
Jelsma, M.Cracks in the Vienna Consensus: The UN Drug Control DebateWashington Office on Latin America, Drug War Monitor 2004
Ballotta, Illicit Drug Use in the EU: Legislative ApproachesLisbonEuropean Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Thematic Papers 2005
UNCommentary on the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988New YorkUnited Nations 1998
Walsh, C.On the Threshold: How Relevant Should Quantity be in Determining Intent to Supply?International Journal of Drug Policy 19 2008 484
Blickman, T.Drug Policy Reform in Practice: Experiences with Alternatives in Europe and the USAmsterdamTransnational Institute and Nueva Sociedad 2009
Booth, M.Cannabis. A HistoryLondonDoubleday 2003
Room, R.The Global Cannabis Commission Report. Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond StalemateBeckley, Oxon.The Beckley Foundation 2008
Commission of the European CommunitiesReport from the Commission on the Implementation of Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA Laying Down Minimum Provisions on the Constituent Elements of Criminal Acts and Penalties in the Field of Illicit Drug TraffickingBrussels 2009
Bergeron, H.Drugs: Policy and PoliticsMaidenhead, UKOpen University Press 2006
Pacula, R.What does it Mean to Decriminalize Marijuana? A Cross-Cultural Empirical ExaminationAdvances in Health Economics and Health Services Research 16 2005 347
Ruyver, B. deMultidisciplinary Drug Policies and the UN Drug TreatiesAntwerpen/Apeldoorn , the NetherlandsMaklu 2002
McDonald, D.Legislative Options for Cannabis in AustraliaCanberraAustralian Government Publishing Service 1994
Room, R.Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond StalemateBeckley Oxon.Beckley Foundation Press and Oxford University Press 2010
2007
Bewley-Taylor, D.The Incarceration of Drug Offenders: An overviewBeckley, Oxon.The Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme and King’s College London International Centre for Prison Studies, Report 16 2009
DiChiara, A.Dissonance and Contradictions in the Origins of Marihuana DecriminalizationLaw and Society Review 28 1994 41
Single, E.The Impact of Marijuana Penalization: An UpdateJournal of Public Health Policy 10 1989 456
Pacula, R.MacCoun, R.Reuter, P.Chriqui, J.Kilmer, B.Harris, K.Paoli, L.Schafer, C. 2004
Hamilton, M.Drug War American Style: The Internationalization of Failed Policy and Its AlternativesNew YorkGarland Publishing 2001
Klein, A.International Pressure, Drug Control and Political Culture: A Comparison between Jamaica and NigeriaAfrican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies 4 2005 63
Chevannes, BarryCaribbean Drugs: From Criminalization to Harm ReductionLondonZed Books 2004
Gecelovsky, P. 2007
Reuter, P.Do No Harm: Sensible Goals for International Drug PolicyThe American Interest 4 2009 47
Maag, V.Decriminalization of Cannabis use in Switzerland from an International Perspective – European, American and Australian ExperiencesInternational Journal of Drug Policy 14 2003 280
Decorte, T.Drugs in Society: European PerspectivesOxfordRadcliffe Publishing 2007
Gelders, D.“Mr Police Officer, I thought Cannabis was Legal”’ – Introducing New Policy Regarding Cannabis in Belgium: A story of Good Intentions and BabelDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 4 2007 106
Loo, M. Van HetBeusekom, I. VanKahan, J. P.Decriminalization of Drug Use in Portugal: The Development of a PolicyAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 582 2002 50
Greenwald, G.Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug PoliciesWashington, DCCato Institute 2009
Hughes, C. E.Stevens, A.What Can we Learn from the Portuguese Decriminalization of Illicit DrugsBritish Journal of Criminology 50 2010 1003
Loo, M. Van HetDecriminalization of Drug Use in Portugal: The Development of a PolicyAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 582 2002 54
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1999New YorkUnited Nations 2000
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2001New YorkUnited Nations 2002
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2004New YorkUnited Nations 2005
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2008New YorkUnited Nations 2009
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2008New YorkUnited Nations 2009
Grayson, K.Chasing Dragons: Security, Identity and Illicit Drugs in CanadaUniversity of Toronto 2008
Katel, P.War On Drugs: Should Nonviolent Drug Users be Subject to Arrest?CQ Researcher 16 2006 495
Gamella, J. F.A Brief History of Cannabis Policies in Spain, 1968–2003Journal of Drug Issues 34 2004 643
Bollinger, L.Drug Law and Policy in Germany and the European Community: Recent DevelopmentsJournal of Drug Issues 34 2004 499
Kort, M. DeCramer, TPragmatism versus Ideology: Dutch Drug Policy ContinuedJournal of Drug Issues 29 1999 473
Uitermark, J.The Origins and Future of the Dutch Approach Towards DrugsJournal of Drug Issues 34 2004 511
Leuw, E.Between Prohibition and Legalization: The Dutch Experiment in Drug PolicyAmsterdamKugler Publications 1994
Solinge, T. Boekhout vanDutch Drug Policy in a European ContextJournal of Drug Issues 29 1999 511
Mares, D. R.Drug Wars and Coffee Houses: The Political Economy of the International Drug TradeWashington, DCCQ Press 2006
Ruter, C. F.The Great Issues of Drug PolicyWashington, DCDrug Policy Foundation 1990
Solinge, T. Boekhout vanDutch Drug Policy in a European ContextJournal of Drug Issues 29 1999 517
Zimmer, L.Morgan, J. PMarijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts; A Review of the Scientific EvidenceNew YorkThe Lindesmith Center 1997
Campell, D.Taking Flak in the Tsar WarsThe Guardian 28 October 1999 1999 493
Bullington, B.Drug Policy Reform and Its Detractors: The United States as the Elephant in the ClosetJournal of Drug Issues 34 2004 701
Alonso, M. B.Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain: A Normalizing Alternative UnderwayAmsterdamTransnational Institute, Federation of Cannabis Associations, Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies, 9 2011
Charles, M.Drug Policy In India: Compounding Harm?Beckley, Oxon.The Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme, Briefing Paper 10 2005
Bewley-Taylor, D.Jelsma, M.Regime Change: Re-visiting the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic DrugsInternational Journal of Drug Policy 23 2012 72
EMCDDAAnnual Report 2007: The State of the Drugs Problem in EuropeLuxembourgOffice for Official Publications of the European Communities 2007
Gray, M.Drug Crazy; How We Got into this Mess and How We Can Get OutNew YorkRandom House 1998
Reinarman, C.The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San FranciscoAmerican Journal of Public Health 94 2004 836
Degenhardt, L.Chiu, W-T.Sampson, N.Kessler, R. C.Anthony, J. C.Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health SurveysPLoS Med 5 2008 e141
UNODCWorld Drug Report 2009Vienna, United Nations 2009
Degenhardt, L.Comparing the Drug Situation Across Countries: Problems, Pitfalls and PossibilitiesBeckley, Oxon.The Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme, Briefing Paper 19 2009
EMCDDAAnnual Report 2008: The State of the Drugs Problem in EuropeLuxembourgOffice for Official Publications of the European Communities 2008
Bewley-Taylor, D.Hallam, C.An Overview of Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond StalemateBeckley, Oxon.The Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme, Briefing Paper 17 2008
Single, E.The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalization in Australia and the United StatesJournal of Public Health Policy 21 2000 167
Bammer, G.Hall, W.Hamilton, M.Ali, R. 2002
Sutton, AHawks, D.The Cannabis Infringement Notice Scheme in Western Australia: A Review of Policy, Police and Judicial PerspectivesDrug and Alcohol Review 24 2005 331www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/bocsar/ll_bocsar.nsf/pages/bocsar_mr_r54
Lenton, S.Pot, Politics and the Press – Reflections on Cannabis Law Reform in Western AustraliaDrug and Alcohol Research 23 2004 225
Levine, H. G.Small, D. P.Marijuana Arrest Crusade: Racial Bias and Police Policy in New York CityNew York Civil Liberties Union 2008
Levine, H. G.Gettman, J. B.Siegel, L.Targeting Blacks for Marijuana: Possession Arrests of African Americans in California, 2004–2008Los AngelesDrug Policy Alliance 2010
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1999New YorkUnited Nations 2000
Barnett, M.Finnemore, M.Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global PoliticsIthaca, New YorkCornell University Press 2004
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2001New YorkUnited Nations 2002
Room, R.The Rhetoric of International Drug ControlSubstance Use and Misuse 34 1999 1702
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2002New YorkUnited Nations 2003
Room, R.Trends and Issues in the International Drug Control System – Vienna 2003Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 37 2005 376
IDPCThe 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs – Report of ProceedingsWitley, SurreyInternational Drug Policy Consortium, Briefing Paper 8 2008
IDPCThe 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs and its High Level Segment – Report of ProceedingsWitley, SurreyInternational Drug Policy Consortium 2009
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2001New YorkUnited Nations 2002
IDPCThe 2006 World Drug Report: Winning the War on DrugsWitley, SurreyInternational Drug Policy Consortium, Briefing Paper 2 2006
UNODC2006 World Drug ReportViennaUnited Nations 2006
Hunt, N.Cannabis and Mental Health: Response to the Emerging EvidenceBeckley, Oxon.Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme and KCA Report 2006
WHOWHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, Thirty-Fourth ReportGenevaWorld Health Organization 2006
WHOWHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, Thirty-Second ReportGenevaWorld Health Organization 2001
IDPCThe 2007 Commission on Narcotic DrugsWitley, SurreyInternational Drug Policy Consortium, Briefing Paper 5 2007
UNODCDrug Policy and Results in AustraliaViennaUnited Nations 2008
INCBReport of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2004New YorkUnited Nations 2005
Acevedo, B.Creating the Cannabis User: A Post-Structuralist Analysis of the Reclassification of Cannabis in the UK (2004–2005)International Journal of Drug Policy 18 2007 177