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Canada's Legalization of Marijuana Goes Against UN Treaties

New York: Canada, come this October, will become the first industrialized nation to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, with all 10 provinces and three territories to decide for themselves how to roll out the new law.

The new law would entail making decisions on the minimum age and whether the private sector or the government will be responsible for its distribution The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says they do not intend to move forward on legalization of all drugs, but are very much focused on the control and legalization of marijuana because the current system is not working. Canadians overwhelmingly support the decision to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, but there is one snag. It violates the three international drug treaties it has signed. Those United Nations conventions restrict signatory countries from selling drugs, including marijuana for recreational purposes. The International Narcotics Control Board, or "INCB" that regulates compliance with the treaties, could impose minor sanctions against Canada. Lawyer Andrew Bernstein, however, doubts it will. "The only country that's ever been sanctioned under these treaties is Afghanistan with respect to its poppy trade. We're not really on the same scale here. We're not exporting heroin around the world. We're just legalizing cannabis for domestic use," said Bernstein. According to legal scholars like Roojin Habibi, perhaps the biggest problem with non-compliance is it weakens the whole notion of international treaties. "You are chipping away at a system that is already being jeopardized from other quarters, from other countries. And it certainly doesn't help promote the rule of law on the international scene," said Habibi. Canada could withdraw from the treaties and then reapply with a marijuana exemption, but there is no guarantee it would be readmitted. Bernstein says it's better for Canada to stay in the treaties even if not fully compliant. "There's lots of things that Canada and Canadians are still very supportive of, like prohibition of cocaine, opium-related drugs, things like that, and stopping international trafficking of those kinds of drugs," added Bernstein.

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