Cannabis and the Conventions: UNGASS and Beyond Cannabis is clearly the elephant in the room at UNGASS

With an increasing number of jurisdictions enacting or contemplating reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively "medical and scientific," tensions regarding the drug conventions and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow.

How might the UN system address these growing tensions in ways that acknowledge the policy shifts underway and explore options that reinforce the UN pillars of human rights, development, peace and security, and the rule of law?

In this event at the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, the highest-level meeting on drug policy in nearly two decades, Uruguayan and Jamaican government officials explain developments in their countries and how they seek to move forward in the international framework. Civil Society representatives outline options for drug treaty reform, which are also described in the new report Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties: Strategies for Reform. "Cannabis is clearly the elephant in the room at UNGASS," according to John Walsh, the senior associate at the Washington Institute on Latin America. "It's there, it's huge, but no one wants to talk about it."

TNI also called for a special advisory group to make recommendations on how to better deal with the contentious issues following the 2016 UNGASS, in preparation for the next UN high-level review in 2019.

See the report of the event and the video report on the proceedings below:


Martin Jelsma (TNI) and John Walsh (WOLA)


Augusto Vitale
President, Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) of Uruguay

Kathy-Ann Brown
Deputy Solicitor General of Jamaica
Director, International Affairs Division, Attorney General’s Chambers

David Bewley-Taylor
Director, Global Drug Policy Observatory

Martin Jelsma
Director, Drugs and Democracy Programme, Transnational Institute

Moderated by

John Walsh
Senior Associate, Washington Office on Latin America

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Conference Room B, United Nations Headquarters

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