Statement by the International Narcotics Control Board on the entry into force of Bill C-45 legalising cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada

Statement by the International Narcotics Control Board on the entry into force of Bill C-45 legalising cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada

On the occasion of the entry into force of Bill C-45 which legalises cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) reiterates its regret at the adoption of this measure by the Government of Canada.

The legalisation by Canada of cannabis for non-medical purposes is incompatible with the legal obligations incumbent on States Parties under the international drug control framework and is a violation of fundamental provisions of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, according to which State Parties have undertaken to limit the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes.

Despite its statements to the contrary, INCB maintains that by moving forward with the legalisation of cannabis for non-medical purposes in disregard of its legal obligations and diplomatic commitments, the Government of Canada has contributed to weakening the international legal drug control framework and undermining the rules-based international order.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, President Viroj Sumyai said: "While the Board is concerned about the impact of cannabis legalisation in Canada on the international consensus embodied in the three United Nations drug control conventions and the related commitments made by the international community at the special session of the General Assembly in 2016, it is also deeply concerned about the public health impact of these policy choices on the health and welfare of Canadians, particularly youth."

The Board will remain engaged with the Government of Canada on this serious issue and will examine the matter at its 123 rd session scheduled to take place from 30 October to 16 November 2018.

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The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, mandated to monitor and support governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.