In a groundbreaking symbolic move, the United Nations has removed cannabis from Schedule IV, where the plant sat alongside heroin and other dangerous narcotics.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cannabis legalization efforts have made significant ground in 2020, having been made legal in five states in the U.S., Argentina allowed for homegrown medical marijuana, Mexico and Israel look poised to go ahead with cannabis legalization and U.S. states like Illinois and Michigan have enjoyed great success with their legal cannabis markets since legalizing the plant in January this year.
Yesterday, the list of wins for the cannabis industry grew even longer, when the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs closely passed a vote by 27-25 to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from its strict Schedule IV list, where it previously sat alongside drugs such as heroin.
The declassification of cannabis by the U.N follows a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019 that the current global scheduling of cannabis needs to change.
At the U.N. hearing, the counselor for U.N. Affairs at the U.S. Mission to International Organizations Ethan Glick stated that "the legitimate medical use of a cannabis preparation has been established through scientific research, and cannabis no longer meets the criterion for placement in Schedule IV of the Single Convention."
Glick continued to say "this action has the potential to stimulate global research into the therapeutic potential and public health effects of cannabis and to attract additional investigators to the field including those who may have been deterred by the Schedule IV status."
Cannabis and cannabis resin will remain in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and as such, they will continue to be subject to all levels of control of the 1961 Convention.
While the scheduling change won't necessarily change cannabis legislation on a country-by-country basis, it will provide a symbolic shift in the perception of cannabis, as well as removing the deterrent component of cannabis being viewed as comparable to heroin.
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