European Commission Refers Hungary To The Court Of Justice Over Cannabis Vote

ICBC write

Last week the European Commission announced that it referred Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for voting against the European Union’s position on removing cannabis from Schedule IV of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs at a meeting back in December 2020. Below is more information about it via a news release from the European Commission:

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union for f voting against the position of the Union on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on scheduling cannabis and cannabis-related substances, as outlined in the Council Decision (EU) 2021/3.

On 2 December 2020, at the reconvened 63rd session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Hungary voted against the Union position twice during the vote on the WHO recommendations in the listing of the substances under international control. Under EU law, the decisions on the international scheduling of substances under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, fall under the exclusive competence of the European Union. Hence, the Council decision determining the Union position is binding on the EU Member States in line with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Commission therefore launched the infringement procedure against Hungary with a letter of formal notice sent on 18 February 2021, followed by a reasoned opinion on 12 November 2021. As the reply from the Hungarian authorities to both the letter of formal notice and reasoned opinion was unsatisfactory, the Commission has decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fulfil its obligations under the Council decision and acting in breach of the exclusive external competence of the Union as well as of the principle of sincere cooperation.

Background

On 24 January 2019, the World Health Organization presented six recommendations concerning the rescheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.

On 23 November 2020, the Council adopted Council Decision (EU) 2021/3 on the position to be taken, on behalf of the European Union, at the reconvened 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, on the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. The decision was addressed to the Member States in accordance with the Treaties and, according to Article 288 TFEU, was binding in its entirety for the Member States who were called upon to vote in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The vote in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs concerning the WHO recommendations took place on 2 December 2020. Hungary voted against those recommendations. In addition, Hungary made a statement in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs strongly contradicting the EU position.

For More Information

Council Decision (EU) 2021/3

WHO Recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances

Infringement decisions database

EU infringement procedure

Link to February 2023 infringements package

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