181 NGOs from 56 Countries call upon INCB drugs agency to create transparency and accountability in ‘Cannabis Guidelines’ effort.
Geneva, Vienna, and New-York, 2 December 2021 – Today, on the 1st anniversary of the historic UN cannabis vote serious concerns have been raised about how cannabis policy resulting from this landmark down-grading of international cannabis prohibition is unfolding.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is creating documentation inside the drug control system to facilitate worldwide medicinal cannabis trade & research. However, INCB’s proposed global “Cannabis Guidelines” & the drafting process itself seem to contradict last year’s key scheduling vote by favouring an increase of restrictions.
INCB’s Guidelines will orient and shape governments’ regulations, impact the lives of many patients and farmers across the globe and undermine the work of doctors, health authorities, and many others. INCB’s rogue initiative threatens trust in a functioning legal order affirmed on 2 December 2020.
181 non-profit organizations from all over the globe have endorsed two letters, one addressed to the INCB President, Jagjit Pavadia and the other sent to inform UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, about the situation.
These letters spell out how we as civil society stakeholders want to help the INCB meet the challenges of our world. This is why we have compiled proposals inspired by successful working methods of the broader UN family. Our suggestions are summed up in six recommendations:
- Disclose INCB documentation like other similar UN bodies;
- Opt-in to the UN online documentation access and archival system;
- Extend the civil society consultations to all areas of work of the Board;
- Call for and collect written contributions from non-State actors;
- Allow NGOs & non-State actors to participate as observers in INCB meetings;
- Scale-up “country visits,” inspired in the human rights treaty bodies Annual Review Mechanism.
Last year on this day, UN took the bold step of removing cannabis from the strictest Schedule of the 1961 narcotic drug Convention treaty, 6 decades after its placement, recognizing the therapeutic value of this ancient medicinal plant and no longer considering it as “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.” The vote followed an independent scientific WHO assessment which reviewed evidence and multi-stakeholder testimonials from all corners of the world.
Conversely, since 2020, INCB has been developing its Guidelines in complete opacity raising concerns about the legitimacy and scope of the process, a fuzzy mandate, and risks of conflicts of interest. While not binding, these Guidelines will impact and shape regulations of cultivation, trade, production, and use of a traditional, herbal medicine and a plant indigenous to many regions of the world. It risks becoming a standard, particularly among smaller nations with less capacity to establish their own regulations.
Our organizations strive for global health, human rights, and sustainability. We recognize INCB’s importance in helping governments ensure access to and availability of controlled medicines for all patients in need but INCB alone can not shape the economic, social, environmental, and cultural future of our communities.
Get updated and follow-up the INCB Cannabis Initiative: bit.ly/INCBmonitor