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Uruguay marijuana move breaks international law

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View of Uruguay’s lower house during the debate of a bill that legalizes marijuana.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has criticized Uruguay’s decision to legalize marijuana, saying the move violates international law.

On December 10, the Latin American nation’s parliament passed a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana after Uruguayan President Jose Mujica championed the measure as a bid to combat the illicit drug industry that has decimated parts of the nation.

President of the Vienna-based INCB Raymond Yans said in a statement issued on Wednesday that marijuana legalization violates the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to which it said Uruguay is a party.

He added that under the convention, states are required to restrain the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes due to its dependence-producing potential.

“Cannabis is not only addictive but may also affect some fundamental brain functions, IQ potential, and academic and job performance and impair driving skills. Smoking cannabis is more carcinogenic than smoking tobacco,” the INCB statement said.

Yans added that he was “surprised” that Uruguay “knowingly decided to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed legal provisions of the treaty.”

The INCB president said Uruguay’s decision “fails to consider its negative impacts on health since scientific studies confirm that cannabis is an addictive substance with serious consequences for people’s health.”

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also said it agreed with the INCB.

“It is unfortunate that, at a time when the world is engaged in an ongoing discussion on the world drug problem, Uruguay has acted ahead of the special session of the UN General Assembly planned for 2016,” said David Dadge, spokesman for the UNODC.

He added that all countries should work together to deal with the global drugs challenge.

Under the new law, which has made Uruguay the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana, registered Uruguayans over the age of 18 will be allowed to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana from pharmacies every month.

The INCB is an independent, quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and monitoring compliance with the three international drug control conventions.


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