Russia cites the UN drug watchdog to blast Canada's legislation legalizing recreational use of cannabis. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Russia cites UN body to blast Canada’s cannabis legalization

Opponents of the Trudeau government’s plan to legalize marijuana in Canada are getting some unexpected if, perhaps, unwelcome support from the Russian government.

In an official statement published by the Russian ministry of foreign affairs on Thursday, a senior Russian diplomat argued the Liberal government’s Cannabis Act, which comes into force on Oct. 17, contravenes Canada’s international treaty obligations.

“When implemented this undertaking will tangibly breach the UN drug control conventions, which as we all know limit the production and use of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes,” said in a statement Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna.

Ulyanov said Canada’s action will not go unnoticed by the international community and pointed to reaction by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), mandated to monitor the compliance of states with their legal drug control obligations.

Undermining international drug control network

A general view of cannabis plants are shown in a grow room at Up Cannabis Inc., Newstrike Resources??? marijuana greenhouses, in Brantford, Ont. on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

In a statement released last Thursday, INCB said that the “legalization and regulation of cannabis by Canada for non-medical purposes cannot be reconciled with the country’s international obligations as a State Party to the drug control conventions.”

The INCB said that the legalization of recreational use of marijuana “is in violation of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and undermines the international legal drug control framework and respect for the rules-based international order.”

“INCB is very concerned about the public health situation in Canada which will result from the Government’s decision to legalize the non-medical use of cannabis,” INCB president Viroj Sumyai said.

Protecting health and safety of Canadians

A man protests Canada’s laws against marijuana during a 4/20 demo on Parliament Hill. The Cannabis Act legalising recreational use of cannabis enters into force on Oct. 17, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Adam Austen, press secretary of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a priority for the Liberal government.

“That is why we are taking a careful, regulatory approach to cannabis legalization,” Austen said in an emailed statement to Radio Canada International.

“We are committed to finding solutions that promote the health and safety of Canadians, while maintaining the international drug control framework as the foundation for international collaboration.”

Ulyanov said Canada’s rationale for pot legalization flips the very basis of international efforts to regulate narcotics on its head.

“It is for the sake of safeguarding the health and welfare of humankind that the conventional norms were adopted,” Ulyanov said. “As for the Canadian initiative, it would by the very meaning of the conventions be detrimental to the health and well-being of the humanity.”

Canada will remain in full compliance with the overarching goal of the conventions, which is protecting the health and safety of citizens, Austen said.

“In March 2017, after our cannabis legislation was tabled, Canada was re-elected to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in a contested election, demonstrating that the vast majority of countries value Canada’s continued contribution to the drug control framework,” Austen said.

“Canada’s commitment to international cooperation to counter and address important international drug issues, such as trafficking, remains as firm as ever.”‎

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8 comments on “Russia cites UN body to blast Canada’s cannabis legalization
  1. Avatar Jackster says:

    Really? Russia lecturing anyone on ANY moral or legal ground is listening to the Fox while he’s in the Chicken Coop. (think Crimea) Russia can go take a long walk off a short Pier…

  2. Avatar JerrezBroown says:

    Russia is out of its league on this one. As medical marijuana is becoming mainstream in various states in the U.S., and law enforcement and epidemiological data comes in after a number of years, there are a number of surprising benefits, as well as some expected issues. First, benefits, there is now a vast database of people with crippling epilepsy that have responded very well with CBD treatments. This is a high amount of CBD and only trace levels of THC, so it doesn’t get people high. There are countless stories of people in near full recovery from grand mal epilepsy seizures. This is but one benefit, and there are countless others. Yes, psycho active levels of THC slows down mental processes, clearly, however; crime statistics show that marijuana substitution for alcohol shows a markedly reduced rate of crime and traffic accidents. No one would suggest Russia dump their entire stock of Vodka, so base judgement on scientific merit, not just international conformity to outdated standards. Russia’s economy would also improve if Russia legalized ‘medical’ marijuana, and then taxed the crap out of it. Just opinion based on new data.

  3. Avatar smokeweedeverday says:

    this isnt 1961

  4. Avatar Andrew says:

    Canada will soon be in violation of articles 22 and 28 of the UN international Drug Control Conventions. Strange for a Liberal party that constantly reminds of how attached to the UN and international law they are. Canadian journalists seem to be assiduously ignoring this.

    • Avatar Rob says:

      Our charters have been changed to reflect this. We still trade and if it was as large an issue as you believe it to be, we would have felt the effects a long time ago. The entire planet has known our intentions for over two years.

      You are fear mongering.

  5. Does the world really care what Russia thinks about what Canada does within our own borders? Since when does Russia care about any U.N. treaties?

  6. Avatar Gregorio says:

    Mientras ustedes se preocupan por legalizar la Mariguana, un hombre langidese en un hospital en Cuba, luchando por los derechos humanos, y el medio ambiente.
    Cuando van a alzar su vos para que lo liberen?
    Ariel Ruiz Urquiola frente al contrato social del castrismo

  7. Avatar Brian Kelly says:

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as a renown global pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Worldwide!