Jun 6, 2016 9:25 AM

Protect Human Rights, Disregard UN Drug Convention, Dutch Study Urges

Positive human rights obligations are an essential part of the process of cannabis legalization. Usually, the debates over this issue center on a certain set of obligations such as protecting citizens, stopping criminal activity, and keeping the public healthy.

When studying the possibilities of marijuana legalization, one of the most important factors to consider are the legal effects of the said changes. Unfortunately, there has not been enough research on the matter.

However, one of the recent studies on cannabis gives us a useful insight into the question. Dutch legal scholars from Radboud University released the results of their study entitled International Law and Cannabis II. Their research is focused on the question of the way a widespread marijuana legalization can influence human rights obligations. Two leading scholars of the research are Piet Hein van Kempen and Masha Fedorova.

The study mostly covers two main questions. The first one concerns the protection of positive human rights obligations and the best way to do it. The two are as follows: to enforce the strict laws that will be determined in the United Nations Narcotic Drugs Convention, or to legalize marijuana for recreational use and the follow the regulations.

The second question that the scholars examine is whether countries should prioritize human rights obligations or their prior commitments to the Drug Convention. Or, in other words, whether the countries should discard United Nations agreements and decide to protect human rights the other way.

The leading scholars determined the answers to the both questions. Van Kempen and Fedorova claim that countries should firstly focus on the human rights obligations regardless of conflicting agreements. In addition, the citizens, according to the scholars, have all rights to use cannabis recreationally if their country meets certain conditions.

The scholars determined a few primary conditions for the regulation of recreational cannabis use.

  1. The policy of discouragement. All countries that legalize the recreational use of marijuana must introduce a campaign to educate the population about the possible negative effects of the drug use.
  2. National democratic support. The countries should unveil all necessary information to the public and legislate matters relating to cannabis through democratic processes.
  3. Substantiated claim. As all countries are different, this study should be perceived as a general guide for reforms. Each country has to conduct its own studies to determine whether the legalization of marijuana will have positive effects on human rights obligations or not. A country in question has to prove that the prohibition of the plant use will not be as effective as its legalization.
  4. Relevant human rights based interest. Based on a specific set of human rights, including the right to health and life, the right to privacy, and to not be subjected to inhumane treatment, the regulation of recreational cannabis use can be considered as a positive obligation for human rights.
  5. A closed system. Considering the fact that the cannabis systems of neighboring countries can differ greatly, cannabis regulation should be a closed system, separate for each country. To avoid the negative influence on the neighbors, a country’s cannabis industry has to remain within the country’s borders and have no influence on other states whatsoever.

This study was truly groundbreaking in the field of marijuana legalization and provided the movement's advocates a rebuttal to the UN Drug Conventions. For more detailed information, you can download the study here.

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