Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires States to take appropriate measures to protect children from illicit drugs ‘as defined in the relevant international treaties’. Those treaties are the UN drugs conventions. Following cannabis legalisation, then, can Canada remain in compliance with the CRC while breaching treaties to which Article 33 expressly refers? This article investigates this question with reference to the drafting of the CRC and the drugs conventions, how the relationship between the two systems has been approached, and the practice of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from 1993-2015. While the CRC could offer an alternative framework through which to critically assess drug laws and policies, by and large it has operated so as to reinforce the drug control system. An interpretation of Article 33 in the light of Canada’s cannabis reforms is proposed. Based on the text of the provision, the pacta tertiis rule, and the object and purpose of the provision, it decouples the CRC from the normative requirements of the drugs conventions.
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