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15 March 2013

Crack down on cannabis, world body tells US

The United States must not turn a blind eye to the recreational use of cannabis in states that liberalise drug laws, an international monitoring group said, urging the country to live up to its treaty commitments.

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The United States must not turn a blind eye to the recreational use of cannabis in states that liberalise drug laws, an international monitoring group said, urging the country to live up to its treaty commitments.

Voters in the states of Colorado and Washington approved measures in November that allow personal possession of cannabis for people 21 and older, who will be able to buy the drug at special stores under rules to be finalised this year.

No other states have legalised pot, the country's most widely used illicit drug, for recreational use. But proponents are pushing for ballots in states such as California and Oregon, which were among the first to allow cannabis for medical use.

Raymond Yans, president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said assurances from the US government in December that growing, selling or possessing the drug remained illegal under federal law were "good, but insufficient".

People smoking cannabis for recreational purposes

Letting people smoke cannabis for recreational purposes violates the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, to which the United States is a party, he told the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs on Wednesday, according to a statement.

The INCB monitors implementation of international drug control conventions, and Yans cited the United States' legal obligation to ensure the treaties were upheld across the country. The Commission is the central UN policymaking body for drug-related matters.

Supporters of the US legalisation campaign have argued the "war on drugs" launched in 1971 has failed to stem cannabis use, and instead saddled otherwise law-abiding pot smokers with criminal records that could help keep them out of work.

US President Barack Obama said in a television interview in December that it did not make sense for the federal government to "focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that's legal".

 
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