The Hidden Problem with the WHO's Reclassification of Cannabis

There appear to be signs of political manipulation behind the UN health agency's recommendations on marijuana, according to one analysis.

On Friday, a letter from the World Health Organization, the United Nations agency tasked with crafting policy to keep us global citizens healthy and alive, circulated among media. It appears the WHO is ready to issue a long-awaited recommendation on its own marijuana policy — and that recommendation is the rescheduling of cannabis and "its key components." But the timing and unofficial nature of the recommendation's announcement has led some to believe there's more to this story than meets the eye.

The WHO recommends the UN remove "cannabis and cannabis resin" from Schedule IV classification while remaining under the Schedule I classification. It also recommends "cannabidiol preparations" and anything with "pure cannabidiol," or CBD, be removed from international drug-control treaties entirely.

Rescheduling Recommended

Unlike the U.S. drug classifications under the Controlled Substances Act, in which the strictest controls are on drugs (including cannabis) in Schedule I, the UN's list of most dangerous drugs is called Schedule IV, a list established in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

So cannabis, currently listed in the same category as heroin in the UN's list of the world's most dangerous drugs, should not in fact be there, according to the Jan. 24 letter from WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

If adopted by the UN's member nations, those same nations would in effect admit that they "have effectively been wrong about marijuana's harms and therapeutic benefits for decades," according to an analysis from Marijuana Moment's Tom Angell.

That's good! But less good is the fact that such a recognition would not necessarily cancel the 1961 treaty, compliance with which has been repeatedly cited by federal agencies, including the DEA, as justification for continuing the federal-level war on marijuana.

Who's Behind the Curtain?

Even worse is the logical trick the WHO appears to be playing on itself — one that, according to an analysis from drug-policy expert Steve Rolles, would allow member states to still pursue draconian marijuana policies for purely political reasons.

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Clarice Gomes

Clarice, a Melbourne-based writer, began her career covering the technology industry and now writes, edits and interviews subject matter experts in the Cannabis Industry.

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