In a move that could have a massive impact on marijuana reform efforts worldwide, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has accepted a recommendation put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) to eliminate medical cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Dubbed Recommendation 5.1, the measure passed by a slim 27-25 majority; the other five recommendations related to the plant were ultimately rejected.
While there will be no immediate widespread changes to cannabis policy globally, the removal of medical cannabis from the Schedule IV list – which also includes heroin – is expected to help increase the amount of scientific research around the plant and its active ingredients. It may also set the stage for individual nations to reconsider their positions.
The vote was a “big step forward,” recognizing the positive impact of cannabis on patients, said Dirk Heitepriem, a vice president at Canopy Growth, told the New York Times. “We hope this will empower more countries to create frameworks which allow patients in need to get access to treatment.”
The recommendations regarding cannabis were first put forward in March of 2019, but due to the political nature of the content, a vote was delayed until now. It’s important to note the measure only relates to the therapeutic use of cannabinoids.
“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, said in an interview with Marijuana Business Daily.
“And for those countries that basically mirror the U.N. scheduling in their domestic legislation, it may lead to national de-scheduling and remove obstacles to use cannabis for medical and research purposes.”