World Health Organization Recommends Cannabis Be Rescheduled

It is now in the hands of the United Nations to vote on the recommendations put forth by the WHO to reschedule cannabis

On January 31 2019, the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence’s (ECDD) released a document, recommending that whole plant cannabis along with cannabis resin be moved from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 to the much less restricted Schedule I. Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 is reserved for the most dangerous substances with extremely limited or no medical value. It is the most restrictive category. Additionally, the organization recommended that pharmaceuticals containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) be moved to Schedule III, the least restrictive. And that CBD preparations with concentrations of 0.2% or less of THC be completely de-scheduled and no longer included under any International control.

This recommendation was originally scheduled to be released in early December 2018 but was delayed for reasons unknown. The United Nations will now be tasked with voting on the recommendations, potentially as early as March of 2019. If the recommendations are approved, the CBD industry could see massive growth and expansion across international borders. The report noted: “Cannabidiol is found in cannabis and cannabis resin but does not have psychoactive properties and has no potential for abuse and no potential to produce dependence. It does not have significant ill-effects. Cannabidiol has been shown to be effective in the management of certain treatment-resistant, childhood-onset epilepsy disorders.” It was approved for this use in the United States in 2018 and is currently under consideration for approval by the EU.

“This opportunity would allow the pharmaceutical industry to explore medicinal cannabis in a global market place. These changes wouldn’t affect individual countries ‘abilities to legalize cannabis while maintaining compliance with current international treaties. The recommendations are, in effect, an acknowledgment of the cannabis plant’s therapeutic benefits. The potential dangers from THC are consistent with the potential dangers of cannabis and cannabis resin so in an effort to simplify the rescheduling and group all cannabis products in the same category, the ECDD further recommends that dronabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC and its isomers) be “deleted from the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) and added to Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs (1961).”

“The evidence presented to the Committee did not indicate that the cannabis plant and cannabis resin were particularly liable to produce ill-effects similar to the effects of the other substances in Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. In addition, preparations of cannabis have shown therapeutic potential for treatment of pain and other medical conditions such as epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. In line with the above, cannabis and cannabis resin should be scheduled at a level of control that will prevent harm caused by cannabis use and at the same time will not act as a barrier to access and to research and development of cannabis-related preparation for medical use.” Said the ECDD of the recommendations.

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