The International Narcotics Control Board is criticizing the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to regulate and control marijuana, saying that such a move violates international drug control agreements.
Launching its annual report in London, Raymond Yans, the INCB president, said that the successful ballots in Colorado and Washington to legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes and the fact that Massachusetts had recently become the 18th state to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes violate the international drug conventions.
"They also undermine the humanitarian aims of the drug control system and are a threat to public health and wellbeing," said Yans. He claimed that so-called "medicinal use" initiatives were little more than "a back-door to legalisation for recreational use".
The INCB has warned the US government that medical cannabis must be properly regulated. "In some US states they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the conventions," the report says.
Yans said the INCB had already been reassured by the US attorney-general that federal laws banning the cultivation and possession of cannabis would remain in force. The UN drug authorities are now waiting to see how Colorado and Washington implement their votes to legalise recreational use and what response is taken by the federal authorities.