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Interesting ‘non-shift’ in U.S. position on drug treaties

US calls for major reinterpretation of international drug laws

In a little-noticed October 9 press conference, Assistant Secretary of State for Drugs and Law Enforcement Bill Brownfield acknowledged that the UN Drug Control Conventions, the pillar of international drug laws, should be reinterpreted to allow more policy flexibility. “The first of them was drafted and enacted in 1961,” he said. “Things have changed since 1961.”

Brownfield specified that the treaties should “tolerate different national drug policies, to accept the fact that some countries will have very strict drug approaches; other countries will legalize entire categories of drugs.”

Brownfield spent a lot of time specifically discussing marijuana legalization in Colorado, Washington state, and Uruguay. “How could I,” he said, “a representative of the Government of the United States of America, be intolerant of a government that permits any experimentation with legalization of marijuana if two of the 50 states of the United States of America have chosen to walk down that road?”

But just to be clear…

A spokesperson for the State Department clarified that Brownfield’s remarks didn’t intend to call for changing the UN Drug Conventions. The remarks instead advocated for a reinterpretation of the treaties.

So, apparently the US position is, rather than changing the outdated conventions to something appropriate or at least reflecting reality, we should just sometimes look the other way? Or perhaps we could just use them to arbitrarily punish the countries we don’t like.

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8 comments to Interesting ‘non-shift’ in U.S. position on drug treaties

  • divadab

    The US position on an untenable treaty is also untenable. As is the US position on the prohibition of cannabis. Maybe in fifty years the Congress will actually do something useful.

  • claygooding

    The STC is under attack for more than just marijuana,,South American countries have a gold mine in natures drugs and they see the foolishness of not taking advantage of all their resources without having to fight drug cartels and criminal gangs to do it.
    Then there is the 14 years in the Happy Valley and not one big bust,,no drug money seized,,no crops eradicated,,reminds me a lot of Viet Nam,,while law enforcement in America kills people pets and neighbors when they smell a joint,,

    No matter how they try to wax over it the smell of corruption and deceit is beginning to turn the strongest stomachs as the world realizes the DEA and America’s war on drugs is market control and window dressing that allows America too much access to their countries operations and unknown agendas.

    The ONDCP and DEA are nothing but market control making sure the right cartels are selling the bulk of the drugs so the right banks are handling the cash,,,if the cartels paid the ONDCP budget entirely it would still leave them $400 billion to play with.

  • darkcycle

    Yup. The United States has never broken a treaty. Just ask Red Cloud.

  • Irie

    Well, the U.S. will just have to hate one more country …… http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120812/focus/focus4.html Legalise it, they are talking about it in parliament
    Won’t be long,Mon, soon come!

  • primus

    Shred them about this whenever they show face. Give them ever more good reasons to ‘evolve’.

  • Servetus

    Bill Brownfield’s call for reinterpreting the UN Drug Control Conventions is something a theologian would do to counter troubling passages in a religious text, not something a person in the State Department does to understand or enforce an international treaty.

    Vague laws are a problem. It’s possible to use imprecise laws and policies to justify almost anything. It’s what Hitler did when he interpreted biblical passages to justify his pogrom against the Jews. A more statesman-like approach is needed.

    A new international treaty listing as human rights violations the persecutions and executions of drug consumers would prompt a much upgraded attitude. There is no reason to tolerate a nation’s barbarism toward its own people regarding anything. Brownfield’s tolerance of different national drug policies that are worse than those in the United States is the problem, not the answer.

  • Frank W.

    They must learn to respect the Iron Clad Memorandum as we do!

  • “Things have changed since 1961.”
    What was your first clue?

    “…other countries will legalize entire categories of drugs.”
    Yeah, like the category called “illegal drugs.”

    “How could I,” he said, “a representative of the Government of the United States of America,…”
    Stop right there. As such a representative, you have no claim to moral high ground, or integrity. You cannot rely on your position to gain the trust of people who never voted for you. Just shut up. Do your job.