This paper considers the findings of the Beckley Foundation's Global Cannabis Commission Report (Room et al, 2008), an overview of the scientific literature on cannabis, detailing its potential harms and those caused by its prohibition. It moves on to consider the various strategies that different jurisdictions have adopted to deal with cannabis use, before moving beyond the Conventions, arguing that countries should have more autonomy to develop policy best suited to their individual circumstances.Cannabis was incorporated into the global prohibitive regime via the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 1961), and is further affected by two later drug Conventions, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1972 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 1972) and the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances 1988 (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 1988). Together, these require that all signatories make production, commerce and possession of cannabis criminal offences under domestic law: in the UK, this expectation is effected via the inclusion of cannabis in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (HM Government, 1971). In the half century since the initial Convention was drafted, patterns of cannabis consumption have altered fundamentally; smoking cannabis has transformed from a relatively rare behaviour confined to a scattering of countries and cultures, to almost a rite of passage among young people in many nations. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2009) estimates that there is a global population of 190 million cannabis users, rendering it by far the most widely used illicit drug, yet, paradoxically, one that is rarely mentioned in international drug control policy discussions.
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