Historic vote by UN drug commission reschedules cannabis

Share this:

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, marking a milestone in cannabis history. The Commission today voted to accept the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation, essentially recognizing the medicinal value of cannabis by moving it to the less-restrictive Schedule I.

CND Monitor: Results of the votes on the WHO cannabis scheduling recommendations.

The outcome has sweeping implications for international cannabis – certain to effect change and development in national laws and regulations, induce investment and speed up research. Moreover, it signals a change in morals, according to Richard Rose, long-time American cannabis activist and entrepreneur.

Changing value system

“Schedule IV for cannabis is a relic of the most extreme international drug laws inherited from 1950s morals and is representative of long discredited value systems connected to racism, intolerance, disrespect for indigenous peoples and cultures that were the hallmark of the colonial age,” Rose wrote on his blog, The Richard Rose Report.

“This isn’t just another brick in the wall coming down, it’s a big hole blasted right through it,” Rose told HempToday. “This Treaty was what every prohibitionist country pointed to as to why they couldn’t legalize. Canada and Uruguay have been violating it for years without consequence, so they decided to do the right thing end the cruel charade.”

Independent researcher Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli whose CND Monitor tracks global cannabis issues, said: “With this decision, the UN closes a 60-year denial of what has been documented being among the most ancient medicinal plants humankind domesticated.”

“This is truly an historic moment for mankind,” said Daniel Kruse, President of the European Industrial Hemp Association. “Finally cannabis officially becomes acknowledged for its medicinal usefulness and therefore will be even more worthy of its full botanical name “Cannabis sativa L.” – in Latin, ‘useful hemp.'”

CBD footnote rejected

The recommendation, which passed 27-25 with one abstention, was among other WHO proposals, including two with potential to affect the CBD sector.

First, Commissioners rejected a proposal that would have introduced CBD into the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs through insertion of an exempting footnote, with 28 countries voting against that proposal vs. 23 in favor and 2 abstentions.

Avoiding precedent

U.S. and European members voting against the footnote said they want to avoid setting “a precedent that the CND now has to start adding footnotes,” which would “displace the presumption that things are not controlled unless explicitly stated to be controlled.” EU and U.S. officials have repeatedly reaffirmed that CBD is not scheduled in international drug conventions, and therefore is not subject to drug controls, reminding as well that CBD which may be present in industrial hemp products is similarly exempt.

“After this historic vote, industrial hemp and non-medical CBD remain out of the scope of the Single Convention,” said EIHA’s Kruse.

Second recommendation fails

Meanwhile a second WHO recommendation that would remove the wording “cannabis extracts and tinctures” from the 1961 convention and replace it with “cannabis preparations,” was rejected by the Commission. Observers have suggested that change would have positively affected the CBD sector by simplifying treaty law. That proposal failed, with 27 Commissioners voting against, 24 in favor, and 2 abstentions.

Because CBD medications are found to contain up to 0.2% of residual THC when derived from the Cannabis plant, some countries consider that they should be regulated as if listed in the drug schedules.

Rejecting science

The recommendation of WHO only proposed that CBD medications with less than 0.2% THC be exempt from drug control – as pure CBD already is. The WHO did not address so-called “hemp CBD products” used for non-medical purposes in its recommendations, only medical CBD products.

Fundacion Canna, a non-profit researcher, in a statement, criticized “governments who reject the input of science, with Russia, Nigeria, China and Cuba at the forefront. The group said those countries “hijacked the discussion, and created a smokescreen: bringing non-medical ‘hemp’ CBD into the discussion.

“These countries propagated the belief that the CBD recommendation is a referendum on CBD, leveraging (geo)politics against science,” Fundacion said.

“The misunderstandings and false narrative created could have a devastating symbolic impact on the hemp sector,” the group continued. “Stakeholders must understand that: before the vote, industrial/non-medical CBD was not Scheduled, not under drug control, and now, after the vote, industrial/non-medical CBD remains not Scheduled, and remains outside of international drug control.”

Get Hemp Industry Updates

* indicates required

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter & get the latest hemp industry news directly in your inbox.

* indicates required
Scroll to Top