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|Signed||30 March 1961|
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
|Effective||8 August 1975|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|Languages||Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish|
|Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs at Wikisource|
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 is an international treaty to prohibit production and supply of specific (nominally narcotic) drugs and of drugs with similar effects except under license for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research. As noted below, its major effects included updating the Paris Convention of 13 July 1931, to include the vast number of synthetic opioids invented in the intervening thirty years and a mechanism for more easily including new ones. From 1931 to 1961, most of the families of synthetic opioids had been developed, including drugs related to methadone, pethidine (meperidine/Demerol), morphinans and dextromoramide (Palfium, Palphium, Jetrium, Dimorlin, marketed solely in the Netherlands). Research on fentanyls and piritramide (R-3365, Pirium, Dipidolor, Piridolan, among others) was also nearing fruition at that point.
Earlier treaties had only controlled opium, coca, and derivatives such as morphine, heroin, and cocaine. The Single Convention, adopted in 1961, consolidated those treaties and broadened their scope to include cannabis and drugs whose effects are similar to those of the drugs specified. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the World Health Organization were empowered to add, remove, and transfer drugs among the treaty's four schedules of controlled substances. The International Narcotics Control Board was put in charge of administering controls on drug production, international trade, and dispensation. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was delegated the Board's day-to-day work of monitoring the situation in each country and working with national authorities to ensure compliance with the Single Convention. This treaty has since been supplemented by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which controls LSD, MDMA, and other psychoactive pharmaceuticals, and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which strengthens provisions against money laundering and other drug-related offenses.
As of February 2018, the Single Convention has 186 state parties. The Holy See, the State of Palestine plus all member states of the United Nations are state parties, with the exception of Chad, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, South Sudan, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Since the Single Convention is not self-executing, Parties must pass laws to carry out its provisions, and the UNODC works with countries' legislatures to ensure compliance. As a result, most of the national drug statutes in the UNODC's legal library share a high degree of conformity with the Single Convention and its supplementary treaties, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The Single Convention has been used as the basis for the standardization of national drug-control laws. In particular, the United States' Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the United Kingdom's Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 were designed to fulfill treaty obligations. Both Acts include analogous schemes of drug Scheduling, along with similar procedures for adding, removing, and transferring drugs among the Schedules. The Controlled Substances Act follows the Single Convention's lead in granting a public health authority a central role in drug-scheduling decisions. It also includes a provision mandating that federal authorities control all "drugs of abuse" in accordance with the strictness required by the Single Convention (21 U.S.C. § 811(d)).
The League of Nations adopted several drug control treaties prior to World War II, such as the International Opium Convention, and International Convention relating to Dangerous Drugs (1925) specifying uniform controls on addictive drugs such as cocaine and opium, and its derivatives. However, the lists of substances to be controlled were fixed in the treaties' text; consequently, it is necessary to periodically amend or supersede the conventions through the introduction of new treaties to keep up with advances in chemistry. In a 1954 interview with Harry J. Anslinger, who was the United States Commissioner of Narcotics at the time, the cumbersome process of conference and state-by-state ratification could last for a period of numerous decades.
A Senate of Canada committee report notes, "The work of consolidating the existing international drug control treaties into one instrument began in 1948, but it was 1961 before an acceptable third draft was ready." That year, the UN Economic and Social Council convened a plenipotentiary conference of 73 nations for the adoption of a single convention on narcotic drugs. That meeting was known as the United Nations Conference on Narcotic Drugs. Canadian William B. McAllister, Q.C., notes that the participating states organized themselves into five distinct caucuses:
These competing interests, after more than eight weeks of negotiations, finally produced a compromise treaty. Several controls were watered down; for instance, the proposed mandatory embargoes on nations failing to comply with the treaty became recommendatory. The 1953 New York Opium Protocol, which had not yet entered into force, limited opium production to seven countries; the Single Convention lifted that restriction, but instituted other regulations and put the International Narcotics Control Board in charge of monitoring their enforcement. A compromise was also struck that allowed heroin and some other drugs classified as particularly dangerous to escape absolute prohibition.
The Single Convention created four Schedules of controlled substances and a process for adding new substances to the Schedules without amending the treaty. The Schedules were designed to have significantly stricter regulations than the two drug "Groups" established by predecessor treaties. For the first time, cannabis was added to the list of internationally controlled drugs. In fact, regulations on the cannabis plant - as well as the opium poppy, the coca bush, poppy straw and cannabis tops - were embedded in the text of the treaty, making it impossible to deregulate them through the normal Scheduling process. A 1962 issue of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs' Bulletin on Narcotics proudly announced that "after a definite transitional period, all non-medical use of narcotic drugs, such as opium smoking, opium eating, consumption of cannabis (hashish, marijuana) and chewing of coca leaves, will be outlawed everywhere. This is a goal which workers in international narcotics control all over the world have striven to achieve for half a century."
A 3 August 1962, Economic and Social Council resolution ordered the issuance of the Commentary on the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The legal commentary was created by the United Nations Secretary-General's staff (specifically, Adolf Lande, former Secretary of the Permanent Central Narcotics Board and Drug Supervisory Body), operating under a mandate to give "an interpretation of the provisions of the Convention in the light of the relevant conference proceedings and other material." The Commentary contains the Single Convention's legislative history and is an invaluable aid to interpreting the treaty.
The Single Convention entered into force on 13 December 1964, having met Article 41's requirement of 40 ratifications. As of 1 January 2005, 180 states were Parties to the treaty. Others, such as Cambodia, have committed to becoming Parties.
On 21 May 1971, the UN Economic and Social Council called a conference of plenipotentiaries to consider amendments to the Single Convention. The conference met at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 6 to 24 March 1972, producing the 1972 Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The amendments entered into force on 8 August 1975.
On 11 November 1990, mechanisms for enforcing the Single Convention were expanded significantly by the entry into force of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which had been signed at Vienna on 20 December 1988. The Preamble to this treaty acknowledges the inadequacy of the Single Convention's controls to stop "steadily increasing inroads into various social groups made by illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances". The new treaty focuses on stopping organized crime by providing for international cooperation in apprehending and convicting gangsters and starving them of funds through forfeiture, asset freezing, and other methods. It also establishes a system for placing precursors to Scheduled drugs under international control. Some non-Parties to the Single Convention, such as Andorra, belong to this treaty and thus are still under the international drug control regime.
The Single Convention repeatedly affirms the importance of medical use of controlled substances. The Preamble notes that "the medical use of narcotic drugs continues to be indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and that adequate provision must be made to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes". Articles 1, 2, 4, 9, 12, 19, and 49 contain provisions relating to "medical and scientific" use of controlled substances. In almost all cases, parties are permitted to allow dispensation and use of controlled substances under a prescription, subject to record-keeping requirements and other restrictions.
The Single Convention unambiguously condemns drug addiction, however, stating that "addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind". It takes a prohibitionist approach to the problem of drug addiction, attempting to stop all non-medical, non-scientific use of narcotic drugs. Article 4 requires nations to limit use and possession of drugs to medicinal and scientific purposes. Article 49 allows countries to phase out coca leaf chewing, opium smoking, and other traditional drug uses gradually, but provides that "the use of cannabis for other than medical and scientific purposes must be discontinued as soon as possible."
The discontinuation of these prohibited uses is intended to be achieved by cutting off supply. Rather than calling on nations to prosecute drug users, the treaty focuses on traffickers and producers. As of 2013, 234 substances are controlled under the Single Convention.
Article 36 requires Parties to adopt measures against "cultivation, production, manufacture, extraction, preparation, possession, offering, offering for sale, distribution, purchase, sale, delivery on any terms whatsoever, brokerage, dispatch, dispatch in transit, transport, importation and exportation of drugs contrary to the provisions of this Convention," as well as "[i]ntentional participation in, conspiracy to commit and attempts to commit, any of such offences, and preparatory acts and financial operations in connexion with the offences referred to in this article". Article 36 does not directly require criminalization of all the above; it states only in the cases of (unspecified) serious offences that they "shall be liable to adequate punishment particularly by imprisonment or other penalties of deprivation of liberty."
The Article also provides for extradition of drug offenders, although a Party has a right to refuse to extradite a suspect if "competent authorities consider that the offense is not sufficiently serious." A 1971 amendment to the Article grants nations the discretion to substitute "treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation and social reintegration" for criminal penalties if the offender is a drug abuser. A loophole in the Single Convention is that it requires Parties to place anti-drug laws on the books, but does not clearly mandate their enforcement, except in the case of drug cultivation.
Drug enforcement varies widely between nations. Many European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and, most famously, the Netherlands, do not prosecute all petty drug offenses. Dutch coffee shops are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis to consumers. However, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport's report, Drugs Policy in the Netherlands, notes that large-scale "[p]roduction and trafficking are dealt with severely under the criminal law, in accordance with the UN Single Convention. Each year the Public Prosecutions Department deals with an average of 10,000 cases involving infringements of the Opium Act." Some of the most severe penalties for drug trafficking are handed down in certain Asian countries, such as Malaysia, which mandate capital punishment for offenses involving amounts over a certain threshold. Singapore mandates the death penalty for trafficking in 15 g (half an ounce) of heroin, 30 g of cocaine or 500 g of cannabis. Most nations, such as France and the United States, find a middle ground, imposing a spectrum of sanctions ranging from probation to life imprisonment for drug offenses.
The Single Convention's penal provisions frequently begin with clauses such as "Subject to its constitutional limitations, each Party shall . . ." Thus, if a nation's constitution prohibited instituting the criminal penalties called for by the Single Convention, those provisions would not be binding on that country. However, Professor Cindy Fazey's A Growing Market: The Domestic Cultivation of Cannabis points out, "Whilst this strategy may be practical politics for some countries, critics will ask why it has taken almost half a century to discover that the UN conventions conflict with a constitutional principle. The argument is particularly difficult to deploy for countries like Britain, where constitutional principles are not formalized or codified to any significant degree." However the current move in Switzerland to enshrine cannabis decriminalization in the national constitution by popular initiative could profit from this rule.
It is unclear whether or not the treaty requires criminalization of drug possession for personal use. The treaty's language is ambiguous, and a ruling by the International Court of Justice would probably be required to settle the matter decisively. However, several commissions have attempted to tackle the question. With the exception of the Le Dain Commission, most have found that states are allowed to legalize possession for personal use.
The Canadian Le Dain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs' 1972 report cites circumstantial evidence suggesting that states must prohibit possession for personal use:
However, LeDain himself concludes
The costs to a significant number of individuals, the majority of whom are young people, and to society generally, of a policy of prohibition of simple possession are not justified by the potential for harm of cannabis and the additional influence which such a policy is likely to have upon perception of harm, demand and availability. We, therefore, recommend the repeal of the prohibition against the simple possession of cannabis.
The Canadian Department of National Health and Welfare's 1979 report, The Single Convention and Its Implications for Canadian Cannabis Policy, counters with circumstantial evidence to the contrary:
The Sackville Commission of South Australia concluded in 1978 that:
The American Shafer Commission reached a similar conclusion in 1972, finding "that the word 'possession' in Article 36 refers not to possession for personal use but to Possession as a link in illicit trafficking."
The Canadian Department of National Health and Welfare report cites the Commentary itself in backing up its interpretation:
The Single Convention's Schedules of drugs range from most restrictive to least restrictive, in this order: Schedule IV, Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III. The list of drugs initially controlled was annexed to the treaty. Article 3 states that for a drug to be placed in a Schedule, the World Health Organization must make the findings required for that Schedule, to wit:
Schedule I, according to the Commentary, is the category of drugs whose control provisions "constitute the standard regime under the Single Convention." The principal features of that regime are:
Schedule II drugs are regulated only slightly less strictly than Schedule I drugs. The Commentary confirms, "Drugs in Schedule II are subject to the same measures of control as drugs in Schedule I, with only a few exceptions":
Schedule III "contains preparations which enjoy a privileged position under the Single Convention, i.e. are subject to a less strict regime than other Preparations," according to the Commentary. Specifically:
Schedule IV is the category of drugs, such as heroin, that are considered to have "particularly dangerous properties" in comparison to other drugs (ethanol is left unregulated). According to Article 2, "The drugs in Schedule IV shall also be included in Schedule I and subject to all measures of control applicable to drugs in the latter Schedule" as well as whatever "special measures of control"; each Party deems necessary. This is in contrast to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which has five Schedules ranging from Schedule I (most restrictive) to Schedule V (least restrictive), and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which has four Schedules ranging for Schedule I (most restrictive) to Schedule IV (least restrictive).
Under certain circumstances, Parties are required to limit Schedule IV drugs to research purposes only:
The Commentary explains two situations in which this provision would apply:
The Commentary notes that "Whether the prohibition of drugs in Schedule IV (cannabis and cannabis resin, desomorphine, heroin, ketobemidone) should be mandatory or only recommended was a controversial question at the Plenipotentiary Conference." The provision adopted represents "a compromise which leaves prohibition to the judgement, though theoretically not to the discretion, of each Party." The Parties are required to act in good faith in making this decision, or else they will be in violation of the treaty.
The Single Convention gives the UN Economic and Social Council's Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) power to add or delete drugs from the Schedules, in accordance with the World Health Organization's findings and recommendations. Any Party to the treaty may request an amendment to the Schedules, or request a review of the commission's decision. The Economic and Social Council is the only body that has power to confirm, alter, or reverse the CND's scheduling decisions. The United Nations General Assembly can approve or modify any CND decision, except for scheduling decisions.
The CND's annual meeting serves as a forum for nations to debate drug policy. At the 2005 meeting, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Iran rallied in opposition to the UN's zero-tolerance approach in international drug policy. Their appeal was vetoed by the United States, while the United Kingdom delegation remained reticent. Meanwhile, U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy Director John Walters clashed with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa on the issue of needle exchange programs. Walters advocated strict prohibition, while Costa opined, "We must not deny these addicts any genuine opportunities to remain HIV-negative."
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is mandated by Article 9 of the Single Convention to "endeavour to limit the cultivation, production, manufacture and use of drugs to an adequate amount required for medical and scientific purposes, to ensure their availability for such purposes and to prevent illicit cultivation, production and manufacture of, and illicit trafficking in and use of, drugs." The INCB administers the estimate system, which limits each nation's annual production of controlled substances to the estimated amounts needed for medical and scientific purposes.
Article 21 provides that "the total of the quantities of each drug manufactured and imported by any country or territory in any one year shall not exceed the sum of" the quantity:
Article 21 bis, added to the treaty by a 1971 amendment, gives the INCB more enforcement power by allowing it to deduct from a nation's production quota of cannabis, opium, and coca the amounts it determines have been produced within that nation and introduced into the illicit traffic. This could happen as a result of failing to control either illicit production or diversion of licitly produced opium to illicit purposes. In this way, the INCB can essentially punish a narcotics-exporting nation that does not control its illicit traffic by imposing an economic sanction on its medicinal narcotics industry.
The Single Convention exerts power even over those nations that have not ratified it. The International Narcotics Board states:
Article 14 authorizes the INCB to recommend an embargo on imports and exports of drugs from any noncompliant nations. The INCB can also issue reports critical of noncompliant nations, and forward those reports to all Parties. This happened when the United Kingdom reclassified cannabis from Class B to class C, eliminating the threat of arrest for possession. See Cannabis reclassification in the United Kingdom.
The most controversial decisions of the INCB are those in which it assumes the power to interpret the Single Convention. Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain continue to experiment with medically supervised injection rooms, despite the INCB's objections that the Single Convention's allowance of "scientific purposes" is limited to clinical trials of pharmaceutical grade drugs and not public health interventions. These European nations have more leverage to disregard the Board's decisions because they are not dependent on licit psychoactive drug exports (which are regulated by the Board). As international lawyer Bill Bush notes, "Because of the Tasmanian opium poppy industry, Australia is more vulnerable to political pressure than, say, Germany."
The INCB is an outspoken opponent of drug legalization. Its 2002 report rejects a common argument for drug reform, stating, "Persons in favour of legalizing illicit drug use argue that drug abusers should not have their basic rights violated; however, it does not seem to have occurred to those persons that drug abusers themselves violate the basic rights of their own family members and society." The report dismisses concerns that drug control conflicts with principles of limited government and self-determination, arguing, "States have a moral and legal responsibility to protect drug abusers from further self-destruction." The report takes a majoritarian view of the situation, declaring, "Governments must respect the view of the majority of lawful citizens; and those citizens are against illicit drug use."
Article 48 designates the International Court of Justice as the arbiter of disputes about the interpretation or application of the Single Convention, if mediation, negotiation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution fail.
The Single Convention allows only drugs with morphine-like, cocaine-like, and cannabis-like effects to be added to the Schedules. The strength of the drug is not relevant; only the similarity of its effects to the substances already controlled. For instance, etorphine and acetorphine were considered sufficiently morphine-like to fall under the treaty's scope, although they are many times more potent than morphine. However, according to the Commentary:
Since cannabis is a hallucinogen (although some dispute this), the Commentary speculates that mescaline, psilocybin, tetrahydrocannabinol, and LSD could have been considered sufficiently cannabis-like to be regulated under the Single Convention; however, it opines, "It appears that the fact that the potent hallucinogenics whose abuse has spread in recent years have not been brought under international narcotics control does not result from legal reasons, but rather from the view of Governments that a regime different from that offered by the Single Convention would be more adequate." That different regime was instituted by the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The Convention on Psychotropic Drugs' scope can include any drug not already under international control if the World Health Organization finds that:
The reason for sharply limiting the scope of Single Convention to a few types of drugs while letting the Convention on Psychotropic Drugs cover the rest was concern for the interests of industry. Professor Cindy Fazey's The Mechanics and Dynamics of the UN System for International Drug Control explains, "concerted efforts by drug manufacturing nations and the pharmaceutical industry ensured that the controls on psychotropics in the 1971 treaty were considerably looser than those applied to organic drugs in the Single Convention."
For this reason, the European Parliament, Transnational Radical Party, and other organizations have proposed removing cannabis and other drugs from the Single Convention and scheduling them under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Furthermore, the provisions of the Single Convention regarding the national supply and demand of opium to make morphine contribute to the global shortage of essential poppy-based pain relief medicines. According to the convention, governments can only request raw poppy materials according to the amount of poppy-based medicines used in the two preceding years. Consequently, in countries where underprescription is chronic due to the high prices of morphine and lack of availability and medical training in the prescription of poppy-based drugs, it is impossible to demand enough raw poppy materials from the INCB, as the convention's regulating body, to meet the country's pain relief needs. As such, 77% of the world's poppy-based medicine supplies are used by only six countries (See: Fischer, B J. Rehm, and T Culbert, "Opium based medicines: a mapping of global supply, demand and needs" in Spivack D. (ed.) Feasibility Study on Opium Licensing in Afghanistan, Kabul, 2005. p. 85-86.). Many critics of the Convention cite this as one of its primary limitations and the World Health Organization is currently attempting to increase prescription of poppy-based drugs and to help governments of emerging countries in particular alter their internal regulations to be able to demand poppy-based medicines according to the convention's provisions (see the WHO "Assuring Availability of Opioid Analgesics for Palliative Care"). The Senlis Council, a European drug policy thinktank, proposes creating a second-tier supply system that would complement the existing system without altering the balance of its relatively closed supply and demand system. The council, who support licensing poppy cultivation in Afghanistan to create Afghan morphine, believe the opium supply in this country could go a long way to easing the pain relief needs of sufferers in emerging countries by producing a cheap poppy-based medicine solution (see [The Senlis Council]: "Poppy for Medicine."
The Single Convention places the same restrictions on cannabis cultivation that it does on opium cultivation. Article 23 and Article 28 require each Party to establish a government agency to control cultivation. Cultivators must deliver their total crop to the agency, which must purchase and take physical possession of them within four months after the end of harvest. The agency then has the exclusive right of "importing, exporting, wholesale trading and maintaining stocks other than those held by manufacturers."
In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse fulfills that function. NIDA administers a contract with the University of Mississippi to grow a 1.5 acre (6,000 m2) crop of cannabis every other year; that supply comprises the only licit source of cannabis for medical and research purposes in the United States. Similarly, in 2000, Prairie Plant Systems was awarded a five-year contract to grow cannabis in the Flin Flon mine for Health Canada, that nation's licit cannabis cultivation authority.
Article 28 specifically excludes industrial hemp from these regulations, stating, "This Convention shall not apply to the cultivation of the cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes (fibre and seed) or horticultural purposes." Hemp-growing countries include China, Romania, France, Germany, Netherlands, UK, and Hungary.
There is some controversy over whether cannabis is "particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects" and whether that "liability is not offset by substantial therapeutic advantages," as required by Schedule IV criteria. In particular, the discovery of the cannabinoid receptor system in the late 1980s revolutionized scientific understanding of cannabis' effects, and much anecdotal evidence has come to light about the plant's medical uses. The Canadian Senate committee's report notes,
The Commentary points out the theoretical possibility of removing cannabis from Schedule IV:
Cindy Fazey, former Chief of Demand Reduction for the United Nations Drug Control Programme, has pointed out that it would be nearly impossible to loosen international cannabis regulations. Even if the Commission on Narcotic Drugs removed cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention, prohibitions against the plant would remain imbedded in Article 28 and other parts of the treaty. Fazey cited amendment of the Articles and state-by-state denunciation as two theoretical possibilities for changing cannabis' international legal status, while pointing out that both face substantial barriers.
However, Kathalijne Buitenweg on the European Parliament's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs issued a report on 24 March 2003, criticizing the Single Convention's scheduling regime:
There have been several lawsuits over whether cannabis' Schedule IV status under the Single Convention requires total prohibition at the national level. In 1970, the U.S. Congress enacted the Controlled Substances Act to implement the UN treaty, placing marijuana into Schedule I on the advice of Assistant Secretary of Health Roger O. Egeberg. His letter to Harley O. Staggers, Chairman of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, indicates that the classification was intended to be provisional:
The reference to "certain studies" is to the then-forthcoming National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. In 1972, the Commission released a report favoring decriminalization of marijuana. The Richard Nixon administration took no action to implement the recommendation, however. In 1972, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws filed a rescheduling petition under provisions of the Act. The government declined to initiate proceedings on the basis of their interpretation of U.S. treaty commitments. A federal Court ruled against the government and ordered them to process the petition (NORML v. Ingersoll 497 F.2d 654 (1974)). The government continued to rely on treaty commitments in their interpretation of scheduling related issues concerning the NORML petition, leading to another lawsuit (NORML v. DEA 559 F.2d 735 (1977)). In this decision, the Court made clear that the Act requires a full scientific and medical evaluation and the fulfillment of the rescheduling process before treaty commitments can be evaluated. See Removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Cannabis leaves (as opposed to buds) are a special case. The Canadian Health Protection Branch's Cannabis Control Policy: A Discussion Paper found that, while the Single Convention requires nations to take measures against the misuse of, and illicit traffic in, cannabis buds, a ban is not required on licit production, distribution, and use of the leaves.
On 2 December 2020, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs adopted Decision 63/17 withdrawing "cannabis and cannabis resin" from Schedule IV of the Convention after propositions were issued by the World Health Organization in 2019.
Source: INCB Yellow List (50th edition, December 2011)
Contains 119 positions in Schedules I and II, generalization clauses (with 2 exclusions in Schedule I) and 2 specific generalizations in Schedule I. 17 positions from Schedule I are repeated in Schedule IV, and some preparations of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs are in Schedule III.
Contains 109 positions, generalization clause (with 2 exclusions) and 2 specific generalizations (1 for ecgonine and 1 for pentavalent nitrogen morphine derivatives).
Coca leaf, cocaine and ecgonine:
Natural opioids sources:
Note on preparations: all preparations made direct from opium are considered to be opium (preparations), if the preparations are not made direct from opium itself but are obtained by a mixture of opium alkaloids (as is the case, for example, with pantopon, omnopon and papaveretum) they should be considered as morphine (preparations)
Some morphine derivatives, including some natural metabolites of morphine and codeine:
Synthetic opioids - morphinan derivatives:
Synthetic opioids - fentanyl and derivatives:
Synthetic 4-phenylpiperidine opioids - pethidines (meperidines):
Synthetic 4-phenylpiperidine opioids - prodines:
Synthetic 4-phenylpiperidine opioids - ketobemidones:
Synthetic open chain opioids - amidones:
Synthetic open chain opioids - methadols:
Synthetic open chain opioids - moramides:
Synthetic open chain opioids - thiambutenes:
Synthetic open chain opioids - phenalkoxams:
Synthetic open chain opioids - ampromides:
Synthetic opioids - benzimidazoles:
Synthetic opioids - benzomorphans:
Synthetic opioids - pirinitramides:
Synthetic opioids - phenazepanes:
Other synthetic opioids:
Isomers specifically excluded (both synthetic non-opioids being morphinan derivatives):
Contains 10 positions and generalization clause.
Natural codeine metabolite:
Synthetic open chain opioids - phenalkoxams:
Synthetic open chain opioids - ampromides:
Preparations of narcotic drugs exempted from some provisions:
(when compounded with one or more other ingredients and containing not more than 100 milligrams of the drug per dosage unit and with a concentration of not more than 2.5 per cent in undivided preparations)
Contains 17 positions from Schedule I (see note on cannabis) and generalization clause.
Synthetic opioids - fentanyl and derivatives:
Synthetic 4-phenylpiperidine opioids - prodines:
Synthetic 4-phenylpiperidine opioids - ketobemidones:
And the salts of the drugs listed in this schedule whenever the formation of such salts is possible.
Cannabinoids (natural and synthetic) and opioids (synthetic and semisynthetic) are scheduled by Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Natural cannabinols (synthetic cannabinoids omitted):
Semisynthetic agonist-antagonist opioids:
Synthetic agonist-antagonist opioids - benzomorphans:
Synthetic open chain opioids having also stimulant effects:
Some opioids currently or formerly used in medicine are not scheduled by UN conventions, for example:
There are of course many opioid designer drugs, not used in medicine.
Article 44 provided that the Single Convention's entry into force terminated several predecessor treaties, including:
The Single Convention is supplemented by two other major drug control treaties: