The Trump administration is asking for public input on whether cannabis should be reclassified pursuant to global drug treaties.
More specifically, the United States Food and Drug Administration put out a notice calling for public comments about the rescheduling of cannabis and several other substances that are now placed under international review. More specifically, the FDA wants to hear about people’s take on the abuse, abuse potential, trafficking, and medical benefits of these drugs, and impact of rescheduling these substances on their availability for medical use.
In their notice, the FDA stated that they will consider these comments in preparing a response to the World Health Organization regarding the diversion of these drugs and their abuse liability. The WHO, in turn, will be using this input from the U.S. when it makes its recommendation for placing certain international restrictions on these drugs and potentially updating global drug treaties that bar nations from legalizing certain substances.
The FDA is required by the Controlled Substances Act to post a notice calling for public comments.
So, for those in the U.S. who want to share their comments with the FDA, you can do so electronically or mail them in written form by the end of Oct. 31, 2018.
You can submit comments electronically, including attachments, to this site. The site’s electronic filing system will accept comments until 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on October 31.
For written comments or paper submissions that are received by mail, courier, or hand delivery, these will be considered timely if they are postmarked of if the delivery/courier service acceptance receipt is dated on or before Oct. 31.
Under current international drug policy agreements and U.S. federal law, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, which is the most restrictive category.
In the U.S., this means that cannabis is considered illegal and unavailable for prescription. This also means that any scientific research on its potential health benefits is highly restricted.
Meanwhile, internationally, this means that countries who have signed the drug control treaties are not supposed to legalize cannabis. This, however, did not stop Canada and Uruguay — both signatories of the these treaties — from legalizing it.
WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence is meeting next month in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to consider the classification of cannabis and other substances. Moreover, the ECDD is now seeking to gather information on the drug’s harmful use, legitimate use, potential impact of international control, and status of national control.
It can be recalled that earlier this year, the ECDD has determined that cannabidiol (CBD) should not be scheduled under global drug control conventions. CBD is a chemical component in cannabis that has shown to have medical benefits without the intoxicating and psychoactive properties of other cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
In its critical review, the committee stated that “CBD has been found to be generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” The committee pointed out that there is no evidence that CBD is liable to the same kind of abuse and ill-effects as THC and other substances, thus they recommended that preparations that are considered to be pure CBD be not scheduled.
The ECDD also agreed to conduct an in-depth critical review of the cannabis plant and its extracts and resins, as well as of THC itself. This new review is what prompted the FDA to request for public comments.
The Trump administration also called for public comments from interested parties well ahead of an earlier United Nations pre-review on cannabis.