The Single Convention for Marijuana

In the 1960s, the smoking of Marijuana as a recreational drug became a widely-known phenomenon in the Western world, as part of the hippie culture. From then on, the importation of stronger varieties from the tropics, combined with a growing interest in breeding techniques, led to a steady increase in psychoactive potency.  As early as 1954, the World Health Organization (WHO) began to claim that Marijuana and its preparations no longer served any useful medical purpose and were therefore essentially obsolete. This decision was made due to pressure by the newly created US Federal Bureau of Narcotics (later to become the Drug Enforcement Administration) that insisted that Marijuana use was a danger to society. 

The Single Convention for Marijuana


Up to that moment, Marijuana legislation had been based on a large number of international conventions, causing considerable legal confusion. It was therefore proposed to combine all legislation into a single international convention, the draft of which was accepted by the United Nations in 1961. Under this “Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs”, Marijuana and its products were defined as “dangerous narcotics with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medicinal value”. In following years, several complementary treaties were made to strengthen the convention. These laws would become an important basis for the international ‘War on Drugs’.
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