By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: The U.N.-affiliated drug control board claimed that marijuana vending machines in Los Angeles violate international treaties and demand that vending machines should be shut down.
"The International Narcotics Control Board is deeply concerned about reports that computerized vending machines to dispense marijuana have been put into operation in Los Angeles," Philip O. Emafo, president of the board.
"We know that the use of cannabis is illegal under federal law of the United States and we trust the authorities will stop such activities, which contravene the international drug control treaties," he added.
At least three Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries have installed vending machines to distribute the drug to people who carry cards authorizing marijuana use. The substance is said to alleviate chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments.
Cannabis use is illegal under U.S. federal law, which does not recognize the medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.
In the statement, the Vienna-based board also said scientific research about the therapeutic usefulness of cannabis or cannabis extracts was still in progress and had not produced much evidence.
"So far, the results of research regarding the potential therapeutic usefulness have been limited," the board said.
The Drug Enforcement Agency and other U.S. federal agencies have been actively shutting down major medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state over the last two years and charging their operators with felony distribution charges.
The International Narcotics Control Board is an independent monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. It was established in 1968.
Humans have been consuming cannabis since prehistory, although in the 20th century there was a rise in its use for recreational, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. It is estimated that about 4% of the world's adult population use cannabis annually and 0.6% daily. The possession, use, or sale of psychoactive cannabis products became illegal in most parts of the world in the early 20th century. Since then, some countries have intensified the enforcement of cannabis prohibition while others have reduced the priority of enforcement.