Economic & Social Committee

The question of the legalization of cannabis

Background

Cannabis, commonly known as a gateway drug, is currently legal in a majority of countries. Countries such as Canada, Chile, Luxembourg, Georgia and Australia but all to a degree. In recent years and most definitely years to come, there has been a push for legalisation; both for medicinal purposes and recreational purposes.
More countries than many consider are close to or already have legalised Cannabis but to a degree. Some countries that permit the use of cannabis require it to be kept relatively private or put a gram limit on it ranging from around 3 to 7grams once decriminalized. However, majority stands as being illegal recreationally.
Many have called for a change as campaigners have said cannabis has “shown promise” in reducing seizures and “is far safer” than other painkillers. However, the effects over the mind and body can be addictive to some, leading to a trigger for psychotic illnesses specifically Schizophrenia and if used for medicinal purposes, withdrawl symptoms can include mood swings, discomfort, restlessness and insomnia. However, the medicinal use of Cannabis is also considered highly effective and in the UK could net up to £3.5 billion for the government.

Responses from the UN

The United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed support for countries reviewing the revoking of laws that criminalize drug use for personal use, specifically medicinal yet are hesitant for recreational use. There is growing support for drug decriminalization – the elimination of criminal penalties for drug use and possession – in the U.S. and around the world. Leading medical, public health and human rights groups have endorsed drug decriminalization, including the International Red Cross, the American Public Health Association, American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and Latino Justice.
Provisions in three historically prohibitionist United Nations treaties – the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances – substantially limit Party latitude in legalizing and regulating schedule-listed substances, including cannabis. Following through on a promise made during the 2015 national election, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-45 in April 2017 to legalise cannabis for non-medical uses by Summer 2018. The World Health Organisation agrees that prohibition has led to policies and enforcement practices that entrench discrimination and propagate human rights violations, contribute to violence-related criminal networks and deny people access to the interventions they need to improve their health.

Points to Consider

– Will the legalisation of Cannabis lead to being uncontrollable e.g. people growing, selling and using their own?
– How would you control the possession and freedom of use of Cannabis to avoid increases in addiction?
– How would you monitor the use of Cannabis if medicinal?
– How have other countries changed/regulated the laws around cannabis?