Canada needs to clar­ify bal­ance be­tween drug treaties, le­gal pot

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - KRISTY KIRKUP

Op­po­si­tion par­ties and le­gal ex­perts are urg­ing the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment to be clear on how it plans to han­dle the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis while Canada re­mains party to three UN treaties that con­trol and crim­i­nal­ize drug ac­cess, not­ing fail­ure to pro­vide clar­ity soon could cause con­fu­sion on the world stage.

Canada needed to give no­tice on July 1 if it in­tended to with­draw from the treaties and stick to its plan to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana by this time next year, said Steven Hoff­man, a York Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor who spe­cial­izes in global health law.

It didn’t, and Hoff­man said he is con­cerned about the mes­sage this sends.

“The lack of clar­ity around how the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is go­ing to ad­dress its in­ter­na­tional le­gal obli­ga­tions un­der the UN drug con­trol treaties is con­cern­ing given it sends the mes­sage to coun­tries around the world ... that our in­ter­na­tional law obli­ga­tions are not at the fore­front of our minds,” Hoff­man said.

“Canada is one of the world’s lead­ing coun­tries, a mem­ber of the G7, a coun­try that ev­ery­one looks up to ... what we do and the con­se­quences of us vi­o­lat­ing in­ter­na­tional law are very dif­fer­ent than the con­se­quences of other coun­tries ... it is a big deal if Canada breaks in­ter­na­tional law.”

Canada is cur­rently one of more than 185 par­ties to three United Na­tions drug-con­trol con­ven­tions — the 1961 Sin­gle Con­ven­tion on Nar­cotic Drugs, the 1971 Con­ven­tion on Psy­chotropic Sub­stances and the 1988 Con­ven­tion against Il­licit Traf­fic in Nar­cotic Drugs and Psy­chotropic Sub­stances.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is ex­am­in­ing a range of is­sues re­lated to the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments, said a spokesper­son for For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

MARK BLINCH, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Canada, soon to le­gal­ize pot, is part of UN groups that crim­i­nal­ize drugs.

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