World Health Organization Recommends International Rescheduling of Cannabis
As legalization laws continue to evolve, the United Nations’ medical branch is now convinced that marijuana should be removed from its status as a dangerous narcotic under international treaties.
Published on February 1, 2019

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A newly published report from the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that the conglomerate of countries move to reschedule cannabis from its currently outlawed status under international treaties.

According to Forbes reporter and Marijuana Moment founder Tom Angell, the WHO document recommends that whole-plant cannabis and cannabis concentrates be removed from Schedule IV status under the 1961 international drug convention, and changed to Schedule I. Unlike the scheduling system in the US, Schedule I is the 1961 treaty’s least restrictive category.

The recommendations come directly from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and were sent in a letter dated January 24th, 2019 directly to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In his letter, Ghebreyesus explains that the suggestions are the result of WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), which met in Geneva in November 2018.

“The forty-first ECDD carried out critical reviews of these substances to determine the most relevant level of international control for cannabis and cannabis-related substances,” Ghebreyesus’ letter reads.

Specifically, the ECDD letter recommends that “cannabis and cannabis resin… be deleted from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961),” and that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and dronabinol (delta-9-THC) be rescheduled to the lowest level of the 1961 convention, Schedule I.

In addition to recommendations for the future of THC, the ECDD letter clarified that pure cannabidiol (CBD) isolate should not fall under any international scheduling category.

According to Angell, the WHO recommendations were initially supposed to be read at an organizational meeting in Vienna this past December. But after an unknown delay, the latest ECDD proposals on cannabis will see the light of day at the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which could be held as soon as this coming March.

It is not yet clear if the 53 individual countries that make up that narcotics commission will accept or reject the WHO recommendations, but as local and federal governments around the world continue to advance cannabis reform laws in the face of longstanding treaties, the idea of international rescheduling is not nearly the pipe dream that it was just a few short year ago.

You can read the entirety of the WHO’s rescheduling recommendation letter over at Marijuana Moment.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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