In the United States, decades-old marijuana prohibition laws are crumbling, state-by-state and city-by-city. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Voters in the nation’s capital, Washington DC, recently approved a referendum legalizing recreational cannabis. 23 US states now allow patients to seek treatment with medical marijuana. With polls showing that a majority of Americans approve of pot legalization, it is clear that the issue has hit a tipping point.

However, officials at the United Nations are none too pleased with the US for allowing states to reverse course on pot prohibition. According to Reuters, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) executive director Yury Fedotov denounced recent legalization efforts in Oregon and Alaska in comments to reporters on Wednesday. Said Fedetov, “I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions.” The International Narcotics Control Board, an organization which enforces UN anti-drug conventions, has previously criticized Uruguay for legalizing marijuana in 2013.

Fedetov expressed his concerns that the recent electoral outcomes in Alaska and Oregon represent a growing trend towards legalization. When reporters asked him what the UNODC intends to do about American states’ alleged violations of international drug conventions, he indicated that he would confront the issue next week in meetings with various UN bureaucracies and the US State Department. State Department official William Brownfield recently called on the UN to take a more flexible approach in dealing with nations that are overturning pot prohibition laws.

Last February, Evan Mulch at reported on how the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 made US enforcement of marijuana prohibition a matter of international law, though international laws in general are tough to enforce on a superpower like the United States. The Obama administration originally fought against state-level marijuana legalization movements, but that policy was inevitably reversed, and administration officials are now beginning to let states set their own policies when it comes to cannabis prohibition.

This spat between the US and the UN shows the challenges that activists face when working to repeal laws that have been codified at multiple levels of government. When the sovereignties of local, state, and national governments are threatened by the decisions of un-elected officials at international treaty organizations, the voices of voters are effectively silenced.

On a related subject, Ben Swann’s latest Truth in Media episode, seen below, deals with the federal government’s own hypocritical approach to medical marijuana, as it claims that cannabis is not medicine yet holds a patent on medical cannabis.

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