Cannabis reform on an international level seems to be happening through the 2000’s, late 2010’s and early 2020’s on a wide ranging international level. There appears to be an easing of the restrictions previously placed on the use of cannabis under international treaties.
Internationally, the drug is in Schedule IV, still the most restrictive category, of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. As of January 1, 2005, 180 nations belonged to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Pro-Legalisation Poster in Belgrade, Serbia, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs makes a distinction between recreational, medical and scientific uses of drugs; nations are allowed to permit medical use of drugs, but recreational use is prohibited by Article 4:
“The parties shall take such legislative and administrative measures as may be necessary . . . Subject to the provisions of this Convention, to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.”
The Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances requires its Parties to establish criminal penalties for possession of drugs prohibited under the Single Convention for recreational use. A nation wanting to legalise marijuana would have to withdraw from the treaties; every signatory has a right to do this.
As of January 2009, “cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol and its derivatives” are categorised as “Class B”, in accordance with “(Amendment) Order 2008” of the United Kingdom’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, this follows on from a proposal by UK politician David Blunkett “to seek the reclassification of cannabis from a Class B drug to a Class C drug” in 2001, the classification was moved to the less stringent Class C in January 2004, although, sadly, it was returned to Class B in January 2009.
The issue has turned into a more pronounced situation with the legalisation of recreational cannabis in Uruguay in 2013 and then in Canada in 2018. As of 2020, even more countries are in direct violation of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs due to these countries bringing in legalisation of commercial cannabis sale and production.