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25 Jun, 2018 02:50

‘Obstacle to drug-free society’: Russia says Canada’s weed legalization undermines intl. law

‘Obstacle to drug-free society’: Russia says Canada’s weed legalization undermines intl. law

Moscow says Ottawa is trampling on international law by legalizing recreational use of cannabis. Canada is set to become world’s second nation to fully decriminalize production and consumption of pot.

The rebuke comes after Canadian lawmakers approved a law regulating production and circulation of cannabis for recreational purposes. Moscow believes that the law, which is to come into force come autumn, directly violates Ottawa’s international commitments, Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The ministry referred to three key treaties dealing with narcotics – the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention of Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances – all of which Canada endorsed. The documents as well international bodies tackling illegal drug trade, do not condone using “exceptions” or “flexible interpretation” to turn scheduled substances into entertainment. Moscow sees the change of policy in Canada as a “serious obstacle” on the way to a drug-free society.

“We expect, that Canada’s “arbitrariness” will merit a response from its G7 partners, since this group has repeatedly declared its commitment to the rule of law in interstate relations,” the ministry added.

Last week, Canada became the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to make limited production and recreational use of marijuana legal. It was initially expected that law would be enacted within 8 to 12 weeks, however, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the law will not take effect until October 17. The delay is needed so that individual provinces that had opposed the bill have enough time to make adjustments to their local laws, he said.

Several provinces, namely Quebec, Nunavut, and Manitoba, vowed to contest the Cannabis Act in court. They mostly object to allowing the home growing of the plant and want the authority to fully ban the practice rather than limiting the cap from the federally-mandated four to one, which they can do under the new law.

The medical use of marijuana has been legal in Canada since the 2000s, but the recreational use of remained criminalized since 1923. The pledge to abolish the long-standing ban was one of the key pre-election promises of Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party, which received a parliamentary majority in the 2015 general elections.

The Canadian government argues that by legalizing pot it will squeeze out of business the street gangs, which have been profiting from a thriving cannabis black market. Canadians will be able to buy weed in shops, which should be licensed by the government, as well as online.

Critics of the legislation say that it will fail to eliminate the black market, only causing a surge in demand. It was estimated that the legal recreational marijuana industry can generate up to $4.3 billion in profits in the first year after the law is enacted.

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