Residents of Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia voted in this month’s election to legalize marijuana within their states’ borders, and this has some officials at the United Nations working overtime to convince U.S. officials to force the states to get in line with international norms.

Via Reuters:

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told reporters.

Asked whether there was anything the UNODC could do about it, Fedotov said he would raise the problem next week with the U.S. State Department and other U.N. agencies.

After Washington state and Colorado voted in 2012 to legalize recreational marijuana, the Justice Department made waves when it announced that it wouldn’t challenge the new laws, causing some to question whether or not this could cause similar legislative initiatives in other states.

Now, two more states and the District have voted to legalize, which means that if the UN wants to roll back legalization, they’ll need to work fast, because the legislative trend is spreading:


The UN is concerned that the trend we’re seeing in the US is part of a greater global trend that shows more tolerance for recreational use of the drug:

Fedotov suggested the U.S. developments may be part of a wider trend that he said the UNODC was following.

On the international level, Uruguay’s parliament in late 2013 approved a bill to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana — the first country to do so.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has said Uruguay’s new bill contravened the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which it says requires states to limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes, due to its dependence-producing potential. The Vienna-based INCB monitors compliance with this and two other drug control treaties.

The UN is notorious for authoring and flogging treaties that address everything from free speech to gender equality, but the thing they’re best at is ignoring state sovereignty as it is defined in the Constitution. Of course the UN (and their loyal NGO lieutenants) are free to ask the Administration to abide by their non-binding treaties; they’re even free to ask the Administration to enforce federal drug laws—but that’s not their premise. Their premise is that there exists an international norm that the states are flaunting, and it’s the Administration’s job to get those states in line with the prescribed norm.

Whether you support legalization or not, this issue is a hill to die on. If it were just about pot, I’d say we should ignore the UN and let voters choose to either welcome or reject their new stoner overlords; but this isn’t just about pot. This is about an international organization attempting to pierce the protection of the Constitution and insert itself into state-level governance.

That’s the stuff downfalls are made of.