The Council on Ethics of the AP Funds (The Council on Ethics) recommends, with the guidance of the UN conventions on drugs, the exclusion of companies that draw a significant part of their revenues from manufacturing drug-classified substances and products for non-medical use. Sweden has signed the UN conventions on narcotic drugs.
UN conventions on narcotic drugs
A number of UN conventions (such as the 1961 General Drugs Convention and the 1988 Drugs Crime Convention) regulate the use and production of narcotic drugs that are addictive and thus risk leading to abuse or addiction and damage to health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been given responsibility for classifying which narcotic drugs are covered by the conventions. The WHO regularly convenes a Scientific Committee to propose changes to the classification of narcotic drugs when prompted by scientific evidence. The WHO classifies cannabis as one of the narcotic drugs that requires the strongest control. This means that countries that comply with UN conventions should treat cannabis as a dangerous substance. The UN conventions on drugs mean that no one is free to buy and sell drug-classified substances or use them freely for non-medical purposes.
Medical use is allowed
The conventions thus limit the use and production of narcotic drugs, such as those containing cannabis or cannabis extracts, to medical and scientific purposes. This means that research with drug-classified preparations can be permitted and that doctors may prescribe certain drug-classified preparations. Examples of such preparations are morphine for pain relief and amphetamine for the treatment of ADHD. The United Nations Narcotics Control Board (INCB) monitors that medicines may become available worldwide when they are judged to have an effect on care and treatment. INCB approves cannabis for medical use. The Swedish Medicines Products Agency has approved drugs that contain a further development of cannabis plant parts. The Medical Products Agency allows patients, after completing a license application, to use cannabis as a medicine and then in accordance with the provisions of the drug legislation.
The Council on Ethics therefore considers that pharmaceutical companies are permitted to produce and sell narcotic drugs in accordance with UN conventions.
The Council on Ethics’ view on narcotic substances
The Council on Ethics deems that a company has acted in violation of the UN conventions on narcotics if it draws a significant part of its revenues from:
- manufacturing drug-classified substances as stimulants or for non-medical use, and/or
- manufacturing products that include drug-classified preparations, such as various beverages or sweets that contain cannabis in various forms.
The Council on Ethics therefore recommends that the AP Funds exclude such companies.
The Council on Ethics engages in dialogue with international corporations that can be linked to actions which defy international conventions that Sweden has ratified. The purpose of the dialogues is partly to get the companies to remediate the issues, and partly that the company should adopt policies and processes to avoid future actions that go against these conventions.
The Council on Ethics uses direct dialogue with companies as its most important tool to work for change. Cooperating with other investors and voting at annual general meetings to add more pressure to the dialogues are other examples of how the Council on Ethics works. If a dialogue does not lead to the desired changes the Council on Ethics may, as a last resort, recommend for the AP-funds to exclude the company.