Uruguay not seen setting drug liberalisation trend: U.N. official

VIENNA Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:03pm EDT

People participate in the so-called ''Last demonstration with illegal marijuana'' in front of the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana during a session, December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

People participate in the so-called ''Last demonstration with illegal marijuana'' in front of the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana during a session, December 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andres Stapff

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VIENNA (Reuters) - The United Nations anti-drugs chief said on Friday he did not see - for now at least - Uruguay setting a trend for countries to legalise the cultivation, sale and smoking of marijuana.

In a move being closely watched by other nations discussing drug liberalization, Uruguay's parliament in December approved a bill to legalise and regulate the production and sale of marijuana - the first country to do so.

Aimed at wresting the business from criminals, the small South American nation has gone further than countries that have decriminalized possession or, like the Netherlands, tolerate the sale of marijuana in "coffee shops".

In the United States, Washington and Colorado states have legalized the sale of cannabis under license, but Federal laws prohibiting it are still in place.

Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that for now he did not see other countries following Uruguay's example.

He was speaking towards the end of a two-day international meeting of U.N. member states that reviewed the implementation of a 2009 plan of action to combat the drugs problem before a special session of the U.N. General Assembly in 2016, amid a heated debate on the merits of liberalization.

"So far I don't see any other countries, or group of countries, that may follow the route which has been taken by Uruguay," he told a news conference. "It is hard to say but I don't see a trend now, today."

Fedotov, who earlier this week said legalization was not a solution to the world's narcotics problem, suggested he did not believe the new legislation in Uruguay was compatible with the "letter and spirit" of international drug control conventions.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has said Uruguay's new bill contravenes the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which it says requires states to limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes, due to its dependence-producing potential. The Vienna-based INCB monitors compliance with this and two other drug control treaties.


There are around 27 million "problem drug users" in the world and about 210,000 narcotics-related deaths a year, a UNODC document prepared for the conference said.

There is disagreement on how to best counter the problem, with critics questioning the 'war on drugs' and advocating some legalization to try to undermine criminal gangs that thrive on narcotics trafficking.

In Latin America, the legalization of some narcotics is increasingly seen by regional leaders as a possible way to end the violence that accompanies the cocaine trade.

Diego Canepa, vice secretary of the office of President Jose Mujica, defended Uruguay's change of course but also indicated that the policy could be revised if it did not yield satisfactory results.

"Legalization is not the holy grail, we need to try it for five or six years," Canepa told reporters. "We know what we have done in the past does not work. Why continue failed policies?"

On the other side of the debate, Sweden made clear its position, saying cannabis served as a gateway to other drugs.

"I'm worried about the drug situation in the world ... governments are leaving the path which we all agreed in 2009," said the Sweden's representative Maria Larsson.

A non-governmental group, the International Drug Policy Consortium, criticized a statement on global drug policy to be adopted by the conference, saying it "does not acknowledge the serious shortcomings of the dominant approach to drug control, despite the numerous and unprecedented calls for reform made by European and Latin American countries."

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (3)
brotherkenny4 wrote:
The US led war on drugs is simply a method of invading other countries without a declared war. The UN is a useless shill for the US and the bankers who control it. It is clear that the nations themselves as indicated by the actions of the UN are all corrupt and hate free people. Shame on the UN for standing up for such facist organizations. We need to put the diplomats on the list with lawyers, bankers and politicians.

Mar 14, 2014 4:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
2Borknot2B wrote:
So the UN controls the laws in all other countries as well as the USA. What is a constitution for? L.

Mar 14, 2014 4:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
malcolmkyle wrote:
Robert Altemeyer, in his book The Authoritarians, describes the authoritarian in ways that resemble the typically unprincipled prohibitionist:

“They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times and are often hypocrites.”

Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them; the concept of a “Drug-Free Society” is a neurotic fantasy, and Prohibition’s ills are a product of this psychotic delusion.

In a dangerous and futile attempt to stamp out alcohol, tobacco, heroin, marijuana, pornography, prostitution, marital infidelity, and even masturbation, this former land of the prosperous and free has been shamelessly pillaged by groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Society, The Anti-Saloon League, The Anti-Cigarette Movement, The Social Purity Movement, The Social Hygiene Movement, and now our latter day Drug Warriors.

Prohibition was flawlessly designed to increase drug use, atomize society, impoverish citizens, spread illness, increase unemployment, destroy lives, imprison productive people, subvert democracy, shred the Constitution, empower the ignorant & brutal, facilitate mass surveillance, destroy the educational system, hold people in ignorance, manipulate and censor the media, and enrich a tiny puritanical minority of mega-millionaires and corporate bosses. Sadly, it has succeeded in all these objectives.

If you support prohibition, then you’re a black market profiteer, a terrorist, a corrupt politician, a sadomoralist, a nanny-state socialist, or a fake-conservative.

Mar 15, 2014 6:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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