I've got a new column at Forbes that details the Internation Narcotics Control Board's futile resistance against drug policy reform. Here is how it starts:
Although marijuana remains illegal in the Netherlands, in 1976 the Dutch government began tolerating retail sales of small amounts by so-called coffee shops. Thirty-eight years later, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a U.N. agency that describes its mission as "monitoring and supporting Governments' compliance with the international drug control treaties," is still complaining about that policy. In its latest annual report, issued this week, the INCB notes that the Dutch "tolerance policy" (gedoogbeleid) "allows small amounts of cannabis to be sold and abused." (INCB officials, like hardline drug warriors everywhere, define all recreational consumption of marijuana as abuse.) According to the INCB, such tolerance is intolerable: "The Board reiterates its position that such 'coffee shops' are in contravention of the provisions of the international drug control conventions."
If the INCB does not like Amsterdam's cannabis cafés, which are technically illegal, you can imagine how it feels about Denver's state-licensed pot shops. Actually, you don't have to imagine. INCB President Raymond Yans, never one to hold back criticism of governments he deems insufficiently zealous in suppressing the consumption of arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants, spells it out in black and white. "We deeply regret the developments at the state level in Colorado and Washington, in the United States, regarding the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis," he writes. "INCB reiterates that these developments contravene the provisions of the drug control conventions, which limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific use only."