The International Implications of Canada’s Cannabis Legalization

On October 17, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of Cannabis. The first was Uruguay, which decriminalized Cannabis a few years ago. But Canada’s move is arguably more significant to international relations for the fact that it is a member of the G7 —  and is a country that has a longstanding commitment to international law and the rules based international order

As my guest today Ambassador David Johnson explains, this move puts Canada squarely in violation of its international treaty obligations. David Johnson is a former US assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement affairs. He is also a member of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board.  This is a body that oversees country’s compliance with international treaties relating to drugs, including what is known as the 1961 Single Convention.

We discuss the implications of Canada’s apparent violation of this treaty; and what it means for global efforts to control illicit drugs trafficking.

More broadly,though, we discuss what happens when progressive policies like the decriminalization of cannabis run afoul of the rules of the international system.

If you have 20 minutes and want to learn the international implications of Canada’s decision to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana, have a listen.

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