VIENA – The United Nations has taken marijuana off the list of high-risk drugs. The move was decided by only one vote. Chile is among the 25 countries that voted against the initiative.
The UN has removed cannabis from the list of the most dangerous narcotics, representing the most significant drug policy change in decades.
Overall, 27 members of the UN’s drug commission voted in favor, 25 against and Ukraine abstained. Chile voted against the resolution.
Justifying their vote, Chilean representatives claimed according to the UN website that “there is a direct relationship between the use of cannabis and increased chances of suffering from depression, cognitive deficit, anxiety, psychotic symptoms, among others.”
Chile’s representatives also claimed that marijuana consumption directly relates to lower educational achievement. Also, in Chile “63.9% of infant-adolescent cases treated for problematic drug use in treatment centers, are there principally because of cannabis.”
Representatives also said scientific evidence for supposed health benefits does not exist, so Chile “will not be available to advance in its legislation.”
Chile shares this position with Brazil, Venezuela, Pakistan, Russia, China, Hungary, Japan, and most Asian and African commission members. But the United States and almost all EU countries, plus several Latin American countries favored the initiative.
Chile’s Cannabis Law
In Chile, marijuana is legal only to alleviate diseases such as epilepsy or rheumatoid pains. While consumption in private is not penalized, cultivation, purchase and sale will be prosecuted under the law.
Yet, Chile records the third-highest use of marijuana among adults behind Israel and the US, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Over 50 countries have already adopted programs for medicinal cannabis use, while Canada, Uruguay and 15 US states have legalized its recreational use.