Countries are obliged by Treaties to regulate Cannabis, UN experts say.

UN human right treaties oblige Countries to regulate Cannabis | International Cannabis Policy Conference | Vienna, December 2018

You can read the original post on the website of FAAAT in English or in Spanish

It is an old line to say that the Drug Conventions forbid legal regulations.

In March 2017 in the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, during a Commission on Narcotic Drugs session, we organized series of conferences in which we needed to ask that question properly: Is it legal for Countries to regulate drugs?

The answer might surprise you, but it is the current state of international law: Countries are obliged to regulate Cannabis.


History, experience, and in-depth research and monitoring by governments’agencies as well as by independent experts or NGOs, have shown that countries fully applying the drug control Treaties provisions are systematically violating human rights to that end. To the contrary, prioritizing human right above drug control means undermining the enforcement of certain obligations of the 3 international drug-control conventions.

Which of the human rights or the drug-control international legal instruments should take precedence over the other? Should countries violate human rights or drug control? In other words: is it legal for a country to freely regulate its national drug policies in the name of human rights? or Is it legal for a country to continue enforcing prohibition knowing that it continuously violates several fundamental rights?

These are the questions addressed and answered in the video release of the Conference, below by Robert Husbands (from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights), Dr. Richard Lines (from Essex University, UK) and Pr. Masha Fedorova (from Radboud University, NL) the panelists of this most brainstorming and revolutionary Academic Conference on #LegalRegulations.

Conference from the UN #LegalRegulations fora 2017, more info on:


To go further in the reflexion, it is interesting to recall the work of Professors Piet Hein van Kempen & Masha Fedorova:

Source: Radboud University. Date of news: 30 May 2016


A must-read: English executive summary of the study: International law and Cannabis II.

The regulated cultivation and trade of cannabis for recreational use is permissible on the basis of states’ positive human rights obligations. This is the result of research by Legal scholars Piet Hein van Kempen and Masha Fedorova of Radboud University from the Netherlands. 

Pleas for the regulated cultivation and trade of recreational cannabis are often based on arguments related to individual and public health, the safety of citizens and the fight against crime: the so-called positive human rights obligations. To date, however, no study has been carried out to find out what the legal implications of legalising cannabis would be. International law and cannabis II (Internationaal recht en cannabis II) is the first study into cannabis and positive human rights obligations.

Human rights obligations versus drug conventions

The study of the Legal scholars Piet Hein van Kempen and Masha Fedorova shows that these positive human rights obligations can require states to provide regulated legalisation of the cultivation and trade of recreational cannabis if this regulation were to protect human rights more effectively than a total ban on drugs, as defined in the U.N. Drugs Conventions.

The researchers’ analysis also resulted in an affirmative answer to another crucial question: From an international law perspective, should states give priority to their positive human rights obligations over their obligations resulting from the U.N. Drug Conventions?

In their research Van Kempen and Fedorova concluded that the U.N. Drugs Conventions as such do not allow for the regulated legislation of the cultivation and trade of cannabis for recreational use. Thus, their new study offers new insights from a human rights perspective.

Five conditions

  • The five primary conditions for regulated legalisation are:
  • This must be in the interest of the protection of human rights.
  • The state must demonstrate that the regulated legalisation of the cultivation and trade of cannabis will result in the more effective protection of human rights.
  • The decision regarding such regulation must have public support and must be decided through the nationwide democratic process.
  • There must be a closed system so that foreign countries are not disadvantaged in any way by this measure.
  • The state is required to actively discourage cannabis use.

If a country can meet these conditions, under current international law it is permissible to give priority to human rights obligations over the obligations of the U.N. drug conventions.

“Internationaalrecht en cannabis II. Regulering van cannabisteelt en –handel voorrecreatiefgebruik: positievemensenrechtenverplichtingen versus VN-drugsverdragen”,  by Prof. P.H.P.H.M.C. (Piet Hein) van Kempen and Dr M.I. (Masha) Fedorova. This study was carried out by the Criminal Law & Criminology department at the Research Centre for State and Law (SteR) and published by Wolters Kluwer in the SteR series.

A must-read: English executive summary of the study: International law and Cannabis II.

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