The Single Convention at 54

Peter Bratton
Vol. 37 Articles Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor

Global drug regulation dates to the earliest pages in the modern chapter of international law. Long before the Geneva Convention or even the Treaty of Versailles, politicians, medical experts, and religious leaders gathered in Shanghai to address what they called “the opium problem.”[i] 52 years and a half dozen treaties later, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs came into effect, unifying the regulatory threads.[ii] 183 signatories and another 54 years later,[iii] the Convention remains the primary narcotics treaty in effect today.[iv] Continue reading

Implications of U.S. Noncompliance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961

Molly Quinn
Vol. 37 Articles Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
  1. Introduction

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (“Single Convention”) requires signatories to prohibit recreational use of cannabis within their territories.[i] The United States ratified the Single Convention in 1967.[ii] Under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, treaties are “the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.”[iii] In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act (“CSA”), which categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, defined as a drug with a high potential for abuse, no recognized medical usage and no safe usage under medical supervision.[iv] The CSA imposes criminal liability for growing, possessing or selling marijuana.[v] Enforcement of the CSA would seemingly place the United States in compliance with its obligations under the Single Convention. Now, however, new laws have legalized marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Colombia. The President’s decision to abstain from enforcing the CSA in these states (and federal district) calls into question the compliance of the United States with its treaty obligations under the Single Convention.[vi] Continue reading