The United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) warned governments around the globe that countries who have legalized the use of medical cannabis must ensure that those programs are used exclusively for their intended use, and not to “de facto legalize” cannabis for recreational use.
The Vienna-based INCB is the “independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions,” and is responsible for some regulations on psychotropics and narcotics and for monitoring how narcotics-related restrictions are enforced.
Recreational cannabis for adult-use is federally legal in Canada, and in 10 U.S. states including Washington, DC. Countries such as Spain, Uruguay, Peru, North Korea, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland have also legalized or decriminalized the drug.
In its 2018 report, the INCB also urged governments to “limit the indications for medical use to those for which there is evidence of efficacy, restrict use to medicinal cannabinoids, and monitor the prescription and use of cannabinoids to minimize their diversion and abuse.”
The organization struck out at the U.S. and Canada in particular for what it referred to as their “poorly regulated” medical cannabis programs with “very broad definitions of ‘medical use.” The INCB accuses the countries of relaxing public perception of the drug, facilitating the acceptance of non-medical consumption, and allowing “commercial businesses” to supply consumers with “illicitly produced” cannabis.
The INCB also accuses countries with medical and recreational cannabis programs of violating international treaties.
“Those programs are inconsistent with the international drug control treaties in failing to control cannabis production and supply,” says the report. “They fail to ensure that good-quality medicines are provided under medical supervision and they enable cannabis and its derivatives to be diverted to non-medical use.”
The agency also railed against smoking cannabis as a valid and effective way of consuming the drug. “Smoking a crude plant product is not a safe or reliable way to obtain standardized doses of cannabinoids,” per the INCB.