WHO committee delays review on global status of cannabis

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A World Health Organization (WHO) Committee has delayed until January its review of the global legal status of cannabis, which was expected to be delivered during a meeting last week in Vienna.

The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) said it needs until January to sort out volumes of input it received ahead of the review’s release.

Highly anticipated

The highly anticipated review is one of the final steps in the process of determining whether cannabis will continue to be in the most restrictive international drug classification. A recommendation on such rescheduling is expected at a meeting of the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) set for March 2019 that will take the WHO review into consideration.

A UN CND recommendation for cannabis to be removed from international control would impact national reform efforts around the world.

Politically motivated?

Some cannabis activists were skeptical of the WHO committee’s delay.

“This decision to withhold the results of the critical review of cannabis appears to be politically motivated,” U.S. cannabis activist Michael Krawitz said of the delay.

“The WHO has been answering many questions about cannabis legalization, which is not within their mandate,” Krawitz said. “I hope the WHO shows courage and stands behind their work on cannabis.”

The ECDD earlier this year released a generally positive pre-review of cannabis which concluded that compounds from the plant can effectively treat pain and offer other benefits.

Other international activists expressed concern over the WHO guidance document in the run-up to the Vienna meeting.

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