WASHINGTON, March 5 (RIA Novosti) – The United Nations agency that monitors global drug treaties said Tuesday that it has “serious” concerns about the legalization of recreational marijuana in two US states – Colorado and Washington – and urged the United States government to ensure it complies with international drug control treaties to which it is a signatory.
“Such initiatives run counter to the growing body of scientific evidence documenting the harm associated with drug abuse, including occasional use, particularly among young people during their formative years,” Raymond Yans, president of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said in a statement issued with the organization’s 2012 annual report Tuesday.
In November, voters in Colorado and Washington State became the first states to approve ballot measures legalizing possession of permissible amounts of marijuana and the creation of regulations for the legal commercial sale of the drug.
The drug is currently legal in both states, putting them at odds with federal drug laws, and the US Justice Department has yet to spell out publicly whether it will enforce the ban under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said last week he was in the final stages of reviewing the two states’ new marijuana laws and that he was examining policy options and international impact, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Yans said Tuesday that such legalization initiatives “would violate the international drug control conventions and could undermine the noble objectives of the entire drug control system, which are to ensure the availability of drugs for medical purposes while preventing their abuse.”
Both the United States and Russia are members of the INCB, which is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
A group of former chiefs of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, meanwhile, called on Washington Tuesday to enforce federal drug laws in Colorado and Washington State. A failure to do so, they said, risks leading to legalization measures being adopted in other states as well.
“My fear is that the Justice Department will do what they are doing now: do nothing and say nothing,” former DEA head Peter Bensinger said, the AP reported.
Supporters of the measures have argued that legalizing marijuana for recreational use would deprive criminal drug cartels of profits and would generate substantial tax revenue for state coffers.
Opponents argue that legalization will attract illegal drug dealers from outside the state and lead to increased use of marijuana by young people.