WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
8 Mar 2018 | Publication

New Report: Balancing Treaty Stability and Change — Inter se modification of the UN drug control conventions to facilitate cannabis regulation

As a growing number of countries move towards legal regulation for non-medical cannabis, governments are pushing the boundaries of the three UN drug control treaties. At the 61st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), WOLA will co-organise a side event with the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) to explore the issue, addressing the various challenges and opportunities involved. At the event a groundbreaking report on the issue will be presented: Balancing Treaty Stability and Change: Inter se modification of the UN drug control conventions to facilitate cannabis regulation.

Regulating cannabis for non-medical, non-scientific uses is plainly disallowed by the UN drug conventions. Nevertheless, sub-national and national jurisdictions are choosing to formally regulate adult-use cannabis, through state-level ballot initiatives and legislation, as has been occurring in the United States since 2012, or through new national laws, as in Uruguay in 2013, and as in Canada, where bills are currently under parliamentary consideration. Such reforms pose considerable challenges to the international legal framework for drug control. This side event explores options for how countries might move forward with cannabis regulatory systems with due respect for international law.

The 61st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs take place in Vienna (Austria) between March 12 – 16, 2018.

CND Side Event:

Regulating Cannabis in Accord with International Law: Options to Explore

Friday, March 16, 2018: Conference Room M5, Vienna International Center, 1:10-2:00pm


  • Dave Bewley-Taylor, Swansea University, U.K.
  • Annette Henry, Cannabis Licensing Authority, Jamaica
  • Martin Jelsma, Transnational Institute, Netherlands
  • Allyn Taylor, University of Washington School of Law, U.S.
  • John Walsh (Moderator), Washington Office on Latin America, U.S.