Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

"Pacta Sunt Servanda -- State Legalization of Marijuana and Subnational Violations of International Treaties: A Historical Perspective"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Brian Blumenfeld now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

In November 2012, voters in the states of Colorado and Washington passed ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana industries.  Since then, six additional states and the District of Columbia have followed suit, and many more have seen legalization debates in their legislative halls and among their electorates.  Over twenty bills introduced in the 115th Congress seek to break federal marijuana laws away from prohibition.  Although the national debate is indeed a vibrant one, it has neglected to address how legalization may be jeopardizing the compliance status of the United States under international drug treaties, and what the consequences may be if legalization means breach. 

For decision-making over marijuana policy to produce creditable outcomes, it must take into consideration the factor of international relations.  Subnational conduct implicating treaty commitments is in fact not without precedent in America, and one episode in particular — notable for its contributions to the nation’s constitutional origins — reveals how treaty noncompliance can degrade a nation’s diplomatic standing.   This article examines both past and present controversies, and uses the advantages of historical perspective to draw international drug law issues into the legalization debate.

History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, International Marijuana Laws and Policies, Who decides | Permalink


I've also wondered how nations may unilaterally violate the single convention on narcotics, since W.H.O re-scheduling has to follow certain protocols and ratification proceedures. However, that does not seem to have deterred Uruguay, Colombia, Germany, Israel, or Canada. The actions of those nations and the fact that the US hasn't officially condoned the actions of the legalized states, seems to undermine the idea of degraded diplomatic standing. You know what really undermines diplomatic standing? The current administration.

Posted by: Ryan | Jun 7, 2018 1:53:15 PM

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