NGO calls WHO committee’s report ‘unethical, surrealistic’

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International cannabis activists have expressed concern over a guidance document from the World Health Organization (WHO) that will be under review during the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting Dec. 5-7 in Vienna. WHO representatives are to give the definitive outcomes and recommendations for the re-scheduling of cannabis, and guidelines for cannabidiol (CBD) to the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) during the meeting.

The concerns emerged this week in Geneva during a meeting of WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), which contributed the guidance, essentially a scientific review that covers of cannabis, resin, extracts, THC, and CBD extracts.

‘Unethical, surrealistic’

“The disappointment relates to the important, repeated, unethical – and I tend to say surrealistic – bias in the (ECDD) documentation,” Kenzi Riboulet Zemouli of FAAAT wrote in a four page letter to the Expert Committee, citing passages in the WHO documentation that address pharmacology and epidemiology, which FAAAT says are key to the overall review.

FAAAT specifically criticized pharmacology sections in the guidance which it says contain “dozens of methodological fallacies and terminological bias. “Misinterpreted studies outcomes and even some presentation of false conclusions seem to imply an intention to introduce bias,” the letter charged.

Call for updating guidance

FAAAT called for updating the guidance and its rules with goals of upgrading methodology, broadening the scope to pharmacovigilance studies, removing biased language and including elements about the botanical characteristics of a number of controlled products.

While serious issues need to be resolved, FAAAT points out that broader changes are beyond the mandate of the ECDD, or that of the WHO Secretariat. The group therefore called for establishment of a working group among WHO, UNODC, WTO, WIPO and other relevant UN agencies in order to establish a clear international classification of the different extracts and preparations of cannabis and of the Cannabis plant.

Despite its concerns FAAAT said it is still “confident that the Secretariat and the members of the Committee will enable a multi-criteria assessment, based on evidence, and driven by the need for policy coherence.”

Cannabis, activists, scientists, practitioners and other stakeholders will make presentations at the International Cannabis Policy Conference Dec. 7-9 that overlaps the UN CND meeting  in Vienna; the conference, organized by FAAAT, will feature some 20 speakers representing 11 countries who will talk about subjects ranging from sustainable building with industrial hemp to public policy, law, human rights, access to cannabis, licensing, drug policy and food safety.

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