WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
22 Mar 2018 | Video

Regulating Cannabis in Accord with International Law: Options to Explore

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 co-organized 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 was 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 explored 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 took 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


  • Annette Henry, Cannabis Licensing Authority, Jamaica
  • Dave Bewley-Taylor, Swansea University, U.K.
  • 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.