181 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have penned an open letter on the first anniversary of the UN cannabis vote raising concerns about international cannabis policy.
The letters raise concerns regarding how cannabis policy resulting from the down-grading of international cannabis prohibition is unfolding. The first letter has been addressed to INCB President, Jagjit Pavadi, and the second to UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is creating documentation inside the drug control system to facilitate worldwide medicinal cannabis trade and research. However, in a statement the NGO’s have said that: “The proposed global Cannabis Guidelines and the drafting process itself seem to contradict last year’s key scheduling vote by favouring an increase of restrictions.”
The letter highlights that the guidelines will orient and shape governments’ regulations, impacting the lives of many patients and farmers across the globe and undermining the work of doctors, health authorities, and many others.
The statement says: “INCB’s rogue initiative threatens trust in a functioning legal order affirmed on 2 December 2020. These letters spell out how we as civil society stakeholders want to help the INCB meet the challenges of our world. This is why we have compiled proposals inspired by successful working methods of the broader UN family. Our suggestions are summed up in six recommendations:
– Disclose INCB documentation like other similar UN bodies;
– Opt-in to the UN online documentation access and archival system;
– Extend the civil society consultations to all areas of work of the Board;
– Call for and collect written contributions from non-State actors;
– Allow NGOs and non-State actors to participate as observers in INCB meetings;
– Scale-up “country visits,” inspired in the human rights treaty bodies Annual Review Mechanism.
“Last year on this day, UN took the bold step of removing cannabis from the strictest Schedule of the 1961 narcotic drug Convention treaty, six decades after its placement, recognising the therapeutic value of this ancient medicinal plant and no longer considering it as “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.” The vote followed an independent scientific WHO assessment which reviewed evidence and multi-stakeholder testimonials from all corners of the world.
“Conversely, since 2020, INCB has been developing its Guidelines in complete opacity raising concerns about the legitimacy and scope of the process, a fuzzy mandate, and risks of conflicts of interest. While not binding, these Guidelines will impact and shape regulations of cultivation, trade, production, and use of a traditional, herbal medicine and a plant indigenous to many regions of the world. It risks becoming a standard, particularly among smaller nations with less capacity to establish their own regulations.
“Our organisations strive for global health, human rights, and sustainability. We recognise INCB’s importance in helping governments ensure access to and availability of controlled medicines for all patients in need but INCB alone can not shape the economic, social, environmental, and cultural future of our communities.”