Legalising cannabis poses a “grave danger to public health and well-being”, the United Nations has warned.
Moves to legalise marijuana in Uruguay and the US states of Colorado and Washington were branded “misguided initiatives” by the head of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the UN body for enforcing international drug treaties.
Car accidents involving drug drivers testing positive for cannabis and cannabis-related treatment for teenagers have all increased in Colorado since a commercial medical cannabis programme was “poorly implemented”, the INCB claimed.
In an annual report, INCB president Raymond Yans said: “Drug traffickers will choose the path of least resistance, so, it is essential that global efforts to tackle the drug problem are unified.
“INCB is concerned about some initiatives aimed at the legalisation of the non-medical and non-scientific use of cannabis.”
The warning follows a vote by Uruguay’s parliament in December to approve a bill to legalise and regulate the sale and production of marijuana.
Meanwhile, licensed suppliers have been able to sell cannabis to adults aged over 21 in Colorado since January, while this is due to be repeated in Washington state this summer.
In the report, the INCB attempts to counter-attack some of the arguments put forward in favour of legalising the drug.
Supporters of more liberal laws argue that legalisation would reduce the money spent on enforcement, the source of most drug-related costs.
However, the INCB said government revenue from the legal sale of alcohol and tobacco is less than the economic and health costs of their abuse.