Global: Canada To Advocate Marijuana Legalization At UN Drug Conference
By Steve Elliott
The long awaited, much anticipated UN General Assembly's Special Session on Drugs will happen April 19-21 at the UN Headquarters in New York City, and Canada is expecting to advocate for abandoning the organization's longstanding prohibition of marijuana.
Just a month before the important UN drug conference begins, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Hilary Geller, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna this month, said the new Canadian Liberal government headed by Justin Trudeau will be moving away from American War On Drugs policies, as pointed out by Lanny Swerdlow at the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP),
The Canadian government plans not only to legalize marijuana, but also to open for safe-injection sites for intravenous drug users and to promote other harm-reduction policies.
Attendees at that conference, made up of government and non-governmental organization officials from around the world, "erupted in applause" mid-way through Geller's address and gave a prolonged ovation.
Geller's presentation was at odds with the policies of the former Canadian government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Drug War policies closely followed those of the United States, including implementing mandatory-minimum prison sentences and boosting police narcotics enforcement.
Harper's Conservative Party government also opposed harm reduction programs focusing on prevention rather than prosecution, and refused to condemn the death penalty for drug offenses as imposed by countries such as Iran, China and Malaysia. Geller, at the conference, emphasized that the Liberal Trudeau government opposes capital punishment "in all cases."
“It was very moving for the Canadians in the room, people who have been working on this issue for 10 years in a context where Canada has been more aligned with China and Russia and Pakistan,” said Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.
Swerdlow points out that UNGASS won't likely result in the repeal of Harry J. Anslinger's infamous UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. That seems an especially unlikely outcome since the day before the March conference where Geller gave her inspiring presentation, a UN official had rebuked Canada for moving to legalize cannabis, saying it violated the Single Convention.
Graphic: Legalize Marijuana Canada