Cannabis Industry, Regulatory

United Nations approves WHO recommendation to reschedule cannabis in historic vote

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on Wednesday accepted a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Annex IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The historic vote in Vienna could have far-reaching implications for the global medical cannabis industry, ranging from regulatory oversight to scientific research on the plant and its use as a medicine.

The long-awaited approval of Recommendation 5.1 had a slim majority in favor with 27 votes in favor, one abstention and 25 votes against.

The CND, the main drug policy-making body of the United Nations, rejected the remaining five recommendations.

The approval of Recommendation 5.1 has great symbolic significance for medical cannabis, as it could help drive medical cannabis legalization efforts around the world now that the CND tacitly recognizes the drug’s medical utility.

“The medical cannabis wave has already picked up speed in recent years, but this will give it another boost,” Martin Jelsma, director of the drugs and democracy program at the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“And for those countries that basically reflect UN programming in their national legislation, it can lead to national disqualification and remove obstacles to using cannabis for research and medical purposes.”

The vote could encourage countries to re-evaluate how cannabis is classified on their own narcotic lists, which could pave the way for more research on medical marijuana and its use as a treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions.