08 Dec The UN Removes Marijuana Off the Dangerous Drugs List
The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on Wednesday accepted a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
The historic vote in Vienna could have far-reaching implications for the global medical cannabis industry, ranging from regulatory oversight to scientific research into the plant and its use as a medicine.
The eagerly awaited approval of Recommendation 5.1 had a slim majority in favor with 27 votes for, one abstention and 25 votes against.
The CND – the main drug policymaking body within the United Nations – turned down all five remaining recommendations.
The passage of Recommendation 5.1 carries broad symbolic significance for medical cannabis, as it could help boost medical cannabis legalization efforts around the globe now that the CND tacitly acknowledges the medical utility of the drug.
“The medical cannabis wave has accelerated in recent years already, but this will give it another boost,” Martin Jelsma, drugs and democracy program director at the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, told Marijuana Business Daily.
“And for those countries that basically mirror the U.N. scheduling in their domestic legislation, it may lead to national descheduling and remove obstacles to use cannabis for medical and research purposes.”
The vote could encourage countries to reevaluate how cannabis is classified on their own lists of narcotic drugs, potentially paving the way for more research into medical marijuana and its use as a treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions.
Where they stand
After voting, some countries made statements on their stances.
Ecuador supported all of WHO’s recommendations and urged that cannabis production, sale and use, have “a regulatory framework that guarantees good practices, quality, innovation and research development”.
Meanwhile, the United States voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention while retaining them in Schedule I, saying it is “consistent with the science demonstrating that while a safe and effective cannabis-derived therapeutic has been developed, cannabis itself continues to pose significant risks to public health and should continue to be controlled under the international drug control conventions”.
Voting against, Chile argued, among other things, that “there is a direct relationship between the use of cannabis and increased chances of suffering from depression, cognitive deficit, anxiety, psychotic symptoms, among others” while Japan stated that the non-medical use of the plant “might give rise to negative health and social impacts, especially among youth”.