181 NGOs call upon INCB to create transparency and accountability in its ‘Cannabis Initiative’ Guidelines effort.

INCB Cannabis Initiative

Open Letters to UN Secretary-General and INCB leadership


181 NGOs from 56 Countries call upon INCB drugs agency to create transparency and accountability in ‘Cannabis Guidelines’ effort.

Press Release

Geneva, Vienna, and New-York, 2 December 2021 – Today, on the 1st anniversary of the historic UN cannabis vote serious concerns have been raised about how cannabis policy resulting from this landmark down-grading of international cannabis prohibition is unfolding.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is creating documentation inside the drug control system to facilitate worldwide medicinal cannabis trade & research. However, INCB’s proposed global “Cannabis Guidelines” & the drafting process itself seem to contradict last year’s key scheduling vote by favouring an increase of restrictions.

INCB’s Guidelines will orient and shape governments’ regulations, impact the lives of many patients and farmers across the globe and undermine the work of doctors, health authorities, and many others. INCB’s rogue initiative threatens trust in a functioning legal order affirmed on 2 December 2020.

181 non-profit organizations from all over the globe have endorsed two letters, one addressed to the INCB President, Jagjit Pavadia and the other sent to inform UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, about the situation.

These letters spell out how we as civil society stakeholders want to help the INCB meet the challenges of our world. This is why we have compiled proposals inspired by successful working methods of the broader UN family. Our suggestions are summed up in six recommendations:


  1. Disclose INCB documentation like other similar UN bodies;
  2. Opt-in to the UN online documentation access and archival system;
  3. Extend the civil society consultations to all areas of work of the Board;
  4. Call for and collect written contributions from non-State actors;
  5. Allow NGOs & non-State actors to participate as observers in INCB meetings;
  6. Scale-up “country visits,” inspired in the human rights treaty bodies Annual Review Mechanism.
Last year on this day, UN took the bold step of removing cannabis from the strictest Schedule of the 1961 narcotic drug Convention treaty, 6 decades after its placement, recognizing the therapeutic value of this ancient medicinal plant and no longer considering it as “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.” The vote followed an independent scientific WHO assessment which reviewed evidence and multi-stakeholder testimonials from all corners of the world. 

Conversely, since 2020, INCB has been developing its Guidelines in complete opacity raising concerns about the legitimacy and scope of the process, a fuzzy mandate, and risks of conflicts of interest. While not binding, these Guidelines will impact and shape regulations of cultivation, trade, production, and use of a traditional, herbal medicine and a plant indigenous to many regions of the world. It risks becoming a standard, particularly among smaller nations with less capacity to establish their own regulations.

Our organizations strive for global health, human rights, and sustainability. We recognize INCB’s importance in helping governments ensure access to and availability of controlled medicines for all patients in need but INCB alone can not shape the economic, social, environmental, and cultural future of our communities.

Get updated and follow-up the INCB Cannabis Initiative: bit.ly/INCBmonitor

INCB Monitor: Monitoring the work of the INCB Cannabis Control Initiative

“As a medical patient, I know how necessary a wide variety of cannabis medicines can be. It’s a much-needed pain treatment with promise in mitigating reliance on opiates at a key moment in history. The INCB is mandated with supporting access to medicine not to fight against plant-based medicines in favor of single-molecule or artificial preparations” – Michael Krawitz

“The International Narcotics Control Board has vastly overstepped its limited mandate and mission. Even the UN Security Council, historically one of the UN’s most secretive bodies, has been shown to be more open, transparent and participative than INCB.” – Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli 

List of the 181 NGOs from 56 countries endorsing the two letters

International organizations:

  1. Concile mondial de congrès diplomatiques des aumôniers pour la paix universelle des droits humains et juridiques (International)
  2. Drug Science (International)
  3. ENCOD vzw (International)
  4. Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress Church of Salvation (International)
  5. European Industrial Hemp Association (International)
  6. FAAAT think & do tank (International)
  7. ICEERS Foundation (International)
  8. International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, IACM (International)
  9. International Drug Policy Consortium, IDPC (International)
  10. Law Enforcement Action Partnership, LEAP (International)
  11. Society of Cannabis Clinicians (International)
  12. Students for Sensible Drug Policy, SSDP (International)
  13. Transform Drug Policy Foundation (International)
  14. Transnational Institute, TNI (International)
  15. Youth RISE (International)

National organizations:

  1. ACEID (Costa Rica)
  2. Addiction Research Center – Alternative Georgia (Georgia)
  3. Afristar Foundation (South Africa)
  4. AGRRR, Association guyanaise de réduction des risques (French Guiana)
  5. Agrupación de cultivadores de cannabis del Uruguay, ACCA (Uruguay)
  6. akzept e.V. Bundesverband für akzeptierenden Drogenarbeit und humane Drogenpoliik (Germany)
  7. Americans for Safe Access (USA)
  8. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Cannabis als Medizin, ACM (Germany)
  9. ARGE CANNA e.V. (Austria & Germany)
  10. Asociación Civil Acción Cannabica (Argentina)
  11. Asociación Civil Ciencia Sativa (Argentina)
  12. Asociación de Cannabis Medicinal, ACMED (Argentina)
  13. Asociación Gallega del Cáñamo (Spain)
  14. Asociación Mexicana de Medicina Cannabinoide, AC (Mexico)
  15. Association des Chanvriers de Nouvelle Calédonie (New Caledonia)
  16. Association of Patient Advocates (USA)
  17. Association Principes Actifs (France)
  18. Associazione Luca Coscioni (Italy)
  19. ASUD, Auto-support et Réduction des risques parmi les usagers de drogues (France)
  20. Berkeley Patients Group (USA)
  21. Beyond Green (UK)
  22. Big Sur Farmers Association (USA)
  23. California NORML (USA)
  24. Canapa Caffè associazione culturale (Italy)
  25. Cannabis Consumers Coalition (USA)
  26. Cannabis Social Club Bolzano/Bozen (Italy)
  27. Cannabis de Esperanza / Cannabis gotas de esperanza (Peru)
  28. Cannabis Development Council South Africa (South Africa)
  29. Cannabis For Children International (USA)
  30. Cannabis Industry Council (UK)
  31. Cannabis sans frontières (France)
  32. Cannabis Trade Association, CTA (UK)
  33. Cannagenethics Foundation (Netherlands)
  34. Cannamedica Luxembourg ASBL (Luxemburg)
  35. Cannasense Campaign (USA)
  36. Cáñamo Industrial Ecuador (Ecuador)
  37. Cañuelas Cultiva (Argentina)
  38. CAPA Cannabis Patientenverein e.V (Germany)
  39. Caribbean Collective for Justice (Trinidad and Tobago)
  40. Catalan Network of People who Use Drugs, CATNPUD (Spain)
  41. Centro de Convivência É de Lei (Brazil)
  42. Centro de Estudios del Cannabis de Perú (Peru)
  43. COLEC (Tunisia)
  44. Collectif d’Information et de Recherche Cannabique, CIRC (France)
  45. Collectif Urgence Toxida (Mauritius)
  46. Comitato pazienti cannabis medica (Italy)
  47. Comitato Referendum Cannabis Legale (Italy)
  48. Confederación de federaciones y asociaciones cannábicas, ConFAC (Spain)
  49. Conseil des Organisations de Lutte Contre l’Abus de Drogues, CONAD-CI (Côte d’Ivoire)
  50. Corporación Acción Tècnica Social, ATS (Colombia)
  51. Corporación Sapiencia (Colombia)
  52. Corporación Viso Mutop (Colombia)
  53. Corporación Ciudadanía y Justicia (Chile)
  54. Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation (USA)
  55. Cultivadores Cannabicos (Argentina)
  56. Cultivemos Argentina (Argentina)
  57. CzecHemp (Czech republic)
  58. Decriminalize Nature Tucson (USA)
  59. Decriminalize VA (USA)
  60. DRCNet Foundation / StoptheDrugWar.org (USA)
  61. Drugs Peace Institute (Netherlands)
  62. Drug Policy Australia limited (Australia)
  63. Drug Policy Network South East Europe (Serbia)
  64. Elementa DDHH (Colombia & Mexico)
  65. Elternkreis Wien (Austria)
  66. Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union Millennium Council (Jamaica)
  67. EUmans (Italy)
  68. Fedito Bxl (Belgium)
  69. Fields of Green for ALL, NPC (South Africa)
  70. Finnish Cannabis Association / Suomen kannabisyhdistys ry (Finland)
  71. Forum Droghe (Italy)
  72. Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (USA)
  73. Freedom Grow Forever (USA)
  74. Front de Libération du Cannabis (Tunisia)
  75. Fundación Ciencias para la Cannabis (Chile)
  76. Fundación Latinoamérica Reforma (Chile)
  77. Fundación Renovatio (Spain)
  78. Ganja Growers and Producers Association (Jamaica)
  79. Gli amici di nonna canapa (Italy) 
  80. Global Eye (Netherlands)
  81. Green World for medical and legal informing (Croatia)
  82. Green Zone (Japan) 
  83. Grupo de Mujeres de la Argentina Foro de VIH Mujeres y Familia (Argentina)
  84. Hanf Als Nutzpflanze Fördern, H.A.N.F. e.V. (Germany)
  85. Hanf Institut (Austria)
  86. Hanfparade, Jakis e.V. (Germany)
  87. Harm Reduction Australia (Australia)
  88. Himalayan Hemp Society (India)
  89. HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje (North Macedonia)
  90. Hungarian Medical Cannabis Association (Hungary)
  91. Institut Polynésien du Cannabis (French Polynesia)
  92. Instituto RIA, AC (México)
  93. Intercambios Asociación Civil (Argentina)
  94. Intercambios Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)
  95. Jamaica Licensed Cannabis Association (Jamaica)
  96. KOPAC, Patients association for cannabis treatment (Czech republic)
  97. Korea Medical Cannabis Organization (Republic of Korea)
  98. Kyarki Foundation Trust (India)
  99. Latvian Hemp Union (Latvia)
  100. Law Enforcement Action Partnership Europe, LEAP Europe (France)
  101. Le Club Confluence (France)
  102. Legalizace.cz (Czech Republic)
  103. Louisiana Veterans for Medical Cannabis (USA)
  104. Malaysia Hemptech Industrial Research Association, MHIRA (Malaysia)
  105. MAMAKA, Mothers for Cannabis (Greece)
  106. Mambo Social Club (Belgium)
  107. Marijuana Policy Project (USA)
  108. MAST Human (Thailand)
  109. Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ, Inc. (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  110. Medical Cannabis Party (Philippines)
  111. Meglio Legale (Italy)
  112. México Unido Contra la Delincuencia, MUCD (Mexico)
  113. Moms Stop The Harm (USA)
  114. Mongolian Hemp Association (Mongolia)
  115. Multi-Dimensional Cannabis Research Centre, Kathmandu University (Nepal)
  116. Cannabis and Hemp Association of Namibia (Namibia)
  117. New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Council (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  118. NORML France (France)
  119. NORML New Zealand, Inc. (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  120. NZ Drug Foundation (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  121. NZ Hemp Industries Association Inc. (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  122. Oaksterdam University (USA)
  123. Observatorio Europeo del Consumo y Cultivo de Cannabis, OECCC (Spain)
  124. Out of the Closet Cannabis Club (Canada)
  125. Patient-Led Engagement for Access CIC (UK)
  126. Patienten Groep Medicinaal Cannabis Gebruikers, PGMCG (Netherlands)
  127. Patients of Cannabinoid Therapy (Japan)
  128. Patients Out of Time (USA)
  129. Peace Movement (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  130. People Against Prisons Aotearoa (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  131. Philippine Cannabis Legal Resource Center (Philippines)
  132. Proyecto Cáñamo (Argentina)
  133. Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (Australia)
  134. Red de especialistas en Endocannabinología y cannabis Medicinal (Ecuador)
  135. ReLeaf Malta (Malta)
  136. Release (UK)
  137. RESET – Política de Drogas y Derechos Humanos (Argentina)
  138. Rights Reporter Foundation (Hungary)
  139. RUCAM, Red de Usuarios de Cannabis Medicinal (Uruguay)
  140. Rumah Cemara (Indonesia)
  141. Schildower Kreis e.V. (Germany)
  142. Science for Democracy (Italy)
  143. Selbsthilfenetzwerk Cannabis als Medizin, SCM (Germany)
  144. Sensible Philippines (Philippines)
  145. Social Drug Policy Initiative (Poland)
  146. Società della Ragione (Italy)
  147. Sociedad Clínica de Endocannabinología, SCE (Spain)
  148. Sociedade Brasileira de Estudos da Cannabis sativa, SBEC (Brazil)
  149. Substance Use and Policy Analysis (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  150. Syndicat Polynésien du Chanvre (French Polynesia)
  151. Tahiti Herb Culture (French Polynesia)
  152. Tolweed club cannabico (Argentina)
  153. The Cannabis Trades Association, CTA (UK)
  154. Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, TRUCE (USA)
  155. Treatment Action Group, TAG (USA)
  156. Unión de Pacientes por la Regulación del Cannabis, UPRC (Spain)
  157. UK Law Enforcement Action Partnership, LEAP (UK)
  158. Umzimvubu Farmers Support Network, NPC (South Africa)
  159. Veterans Ending The Stigma (USA)
  160. Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access (USA)
  161. Veterans Initiative 22 (USA)
  162. Virginians Against Drug Violence (USA)
  163. VOC, Verbond Opheffing Cannabisverbod, Union for the abolition of cannabis prohibition (Netherlands)
  164. Washington Office on Latin America, WOLA (USA)
  165. Why not hemp? / Prečo nie konope? n.f (Slovakia)
  166. Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (Zimbabwe)

Follow the INCB Monitor for updates and background information on the INCB Cannabis Initiative & Guidelines: biy.lt/INCBmonitor


Update 4 December: answer from UN spokesperson

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