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181 NGOs calling upon INCB to create transparency and accountability in 'Cannabis Initiative'

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is creating documentation inside the drug control system to facilitate worldwide medicinal cannabis trade and research. "However," organizations behind the letters sent to the institution, "INCB’s proposed global 'Cannabis Guidelines' and the drafting process itself seem to contradict last year’s key scheduling vote by favoring an increase of restrictions."

181 non-profit organizations from all over the globe have endorsed two letters, one addressed to the INCB President, Jagjit Pavadia, and the other sent to inform UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, calling upon the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to create more transparency and accountability.

"These letters spell out how we as civil society stakeholders want to help the INCB meet the challenges of our world. This is why we have compiled proposals inspired by successful working methods of the broader UN family," the organizations' letters state. These are the recommendations:

  • Disclose INCB documentation like other similar UN bodies
  • Opt-in to the UN online documentation access and archival system
  • Extend the civil society consultations to all areas of work of the Board
  • Call for and collect written contributions from non-State actors
  • Allow NGOs & non-State actors to participate as observers in INCB meetings
  • Scale-up 'country visits', inspired in the human rights treaty bodies Annual Review Mechanism.

Last year, the UN removed cannabis from the strictest Schedule of the 1961 narcotic drug Convention treaty, 6 decades after its placement, recognizing the therapeutic value of this medicinal plant and no longer considering it as “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.” The vote followed an independent scientific WHO assessment which reviewed evidence and multi-stakeholder testimonials from all corners of the world.  

"Conversely, since 2020, INCB has been developing its guidelines in complete opacity, raising concerns about the legitimacy and scope of the process, a fuzzy mandate, and risks of conflicts of interest. While not binding, these guidelines will impact and shape regulations of cultivation, trade, production, and use of a traditional, herbal medicine and a plant indigenous to many regions of the world. It risks becoming a standard, particularly among smaller nations with less capacity to establish their own regulations.

"Our organizations strive for global health, human rights, and sustainability. We recognize INCB’s importance in helping governments ensure access to and availability of controlled medicines for all patients in need, but INCB alone can not shape the economic, social, environmental, and cultural future of our communities," the organizations conclude.

To read the letters, see the organizations endorsing them, and the UN's response, click here.

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