The World Health Organization is proposing a downgrade of cannabis from its controlled status after they have reviewed evidence of the drug’s potential medicinal benefits. This signals a potential global shift for cannabis.
More specifically, the WHO is proposing for whole-plant cannabis and cannabis resin to be removed from its current international Schedule IV category and to relist it as Schedule I drug. Pursuant to a 1961 international drug convention treaty, Schedule IV is the most restrictive category.
Additionally, the WHO is also calling for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its related isomers to be moved to Schedule I of the UN treaty. Meanwhile, cannabis extracts and tinctures would be removed from Schedule I of the treaty, and pharmaceuticals preparations containing THC would be placed under Schedule III.
The WHO’s recommendations came in a letter dated January 24, 2019, from WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
Aside from their recommendations to reschedule cannabis and its derivatives, the WHO also proposes that pure cannabidiol (CBD) and preparations with no more than 0.2 percent of THC be not scheduled at all.
Needless to say, adopting the WHO’s recommendations could pave the way for federal CBD and cannabis-related reforms in the United States.
For now, these recommendations remain to be mere advice. These proposals will now go to the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs and member nations will vote on whether to accept them or not in March.
The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence did a review on cannabis and said in a statement that they recognized the harms that these substances present to public health. However, they also recognized their potential therapeutic and scientific use.
As a result, the Committee is recommending a more rational system of international control surrounding cannabis and its related substances. This system would ensure that cannabis-derived pharmaceutical preparations are available for medical use while also preventing drug-related harms.
Medical cannabis is currently legal in 30 countries around the world.