Recommendations for Aligning Canada’s International Obligations with the Country’s New Legal Framework for Cannabis

As Canada prepares to enact legislation that will legalize and regulate cannabis, the government should begin to explore Canada’s options for ensuring that the country’s international legal obligations are brought into alignment with its new legal framework for cannabis. Canada’s reform will inevitably involve entering into non-compliance with specific elements of the UN drug control treaties. This should not be regarded as an insurmountable obstacle to Canada’s cannabis reform, but nor should it be denied or considered irrelevant. The outmoded treaty obligations that bind States to a counterproductive pursuit of cannabis prohibition are the problem, giving rise to the need for a temporary, transitional period of what we would call ‘principled non-compliance,’ accompanied by good-faith efforts to resolve this tension.”