The controversial Uruguay marijuana laws recently passed are a direct violation of international law, according to the UN.
The International Narcotics Control Board, which is a UN agency, is responsible for overseeing international drug treaties.
Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, says that the Montevideo administration “knowingly decided to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed legal provisions of the treaty.”
Yans also claims that the reasoning behind the new Uruguay marijuana laws relies on “rather precarious and unsubstantiated assumptions,” in addition to ignoring the scientific evidence of health problems related to marijuana.
Yans asserts that the new legislation, “[…]will not protect young people, but rather have the perverse effect of encouraging early experimentation, lowering the age of first use, and thus contributing to… earlier onset of addiction and other disorders.”
Uruguay became the first nation in the world to legalize marijuana production and sale as of Tuesday after parliamentary vote.
When the bill was presented, Uruguayan Senator Roberto Conte said that the new legislation was an “unavoidable response” the “failed” War on Drugs.
While both sides make valid points, it is interesting to note that the legislation passed by Uruguay does not contain any provision to help addicts and alcoholics. Especially if the country’s parliament knew it was going to face international opposition from the UN, it seems like this—perhaps one of the biggest contentions to the legalization of marijuana—would be included.
Further, the UN is right in its concerns. While other countries like The Netherlands and Portugal have gained a reputation for drug use, they both have very different approaches.
Amsterdam coffee shops are now closing their doors to tourists after increases in drug-related crime, and their laws have been getting stricter in recent years. Nevertheless, the country has always been known as offering some sort of treatment for those looking to recover from addiction.
Portugal, too, has seen a vast reduction in its drug use following decriminalization…but, a.) decriminalization is not the same thing as legalization, and b.) the country has made great efforts to offer treatment instead of punishing addicts. Once treatment options and services were offered to addicts, the country as a whole started seeing lower rates of drug use, lower rates of HIV infection, and increases in treatment.
So why has Uruguay not made use of these past case studies?
If legalization is being considered because of cartel violence, then that assumes that the drugs are the sole reason for the cartels to commit violence. If the cartels commit violence to maintain control of their markets and territory, then that means their markets must no longer exist as a whole if they are to be stopped. While legalizing marijuana does take a big chunk of money away from the cartels, it does nothing to respond to the other drugs sold by the cartels, such as heroin, meth, and cocaine.
Further, the cartels are not solely involved in drugs—increasingly, they are turning to human trafficking for their money. Obviously, new Uruguay marijuana laws do nothing to address this aspect of the cartels’ business.
The New Uruguay Marijuana Laws: Yay or Nay?
What do you think? Are these new laws going to help, hurt, or have no impact? Let us know in the comments!