The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has released 20 key principles to guide the ethical behaviour of the legal cannabis industry.

The IDPC is a global network of around 200 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that is calling for more ethical business practices including protecting the rights of drug users, helping people who were criminalised for their involvement in the cannabis trade to progress into the legal markets, ensuring the industry is a fair and equitable employer, and involving local communities.

IDPC’s executive director, Ann Fordham, said: “As the momentum for cannabis regulation grows, we cannot leave the design and implementation of the new legal markets solely in the hands of private interests.”

Launching its report, Principles for the Legal Regulation of Cannabis, the IDPC said: “Communities that have borne the brunt of the war on drugs are being excluded from these legal markets. Not only does this mean they do not benefit from these critical reforms, but these developments are serving to further entrench and exacerbate inequality.”

The report stated that Canadian corporations currently control more than 70% of the Colombian and Uruguayan cannabis markets, while black, indigenous and people of colour own less than 20% of the US market.

“Legal regulation has the potential to become a powerful tool to redress decades of criminalisation, economic exclusion and lack of access to appropriate health care,” the report said.

“However, legal markets can also be captured by corporate interests, fail to include comprehensive measures to redress the harms brought by the ‘war on drugs’, and further criminalise people that remain in the illegal spaces inevitably persisting outside any regulated market.”

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