The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs has accepted a World Health Organisation recommendation overnight to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
In a move which could have far-reaching implications for the global medicinal cannabis industry, the Vienna-based UN agency voted 27-25 in favour, with one abstention.
Under the UN’s system, Schedule IV substances are considered the most dangerous and addictive drugs. Cannabis will now be classified under Schedule I, which is the least restrictive drug classification.
The schedules balance a drug’s medical application against any harm it might cause.
While the vote does not leave the way clear for member nations to legalise cannabis under the international drug control system, taking cannabis off the strictest schedule – and the tacit acknowledgement of its medical benefits – could lead to the loosening of international controls and boost campaigns to legalise medicinal cannabis around the world.
The move has been welcomed by cannabis campaigners globally.
Creso Pharma co-founder and director Boaz Wachtel said: “The UN ruling to reclassify cannabis is a landmark decision and paves the way for the relaxing of cannabis drug classifications in large markets across the world.
“The result of this vote follows 60 years of status quo, three years of scientific review by the world’s leading health organisations, two years of diplomatic discussions and considerable lobbying from NGOs.”
Elixinol Global group CEO Oliver Horn added: “This is possibly the most important day for cannabidiol, or CBD, since it was scheduled as a narcotic in 1961.
“Since that time, substantial resource has been deployed into understanding CBD and while we have long understood its significant therapeutic value, international scheduling has held it back.”
Medlab CEO Dr Sean Hall said the move will give hope to millions of patients around the world who are struggling to manage chronic pain and other debilitating conditions.
“We know patients are seeking opioid alternatives for pain management. While progressive policies in Australia have enabled a small number of clinicians to prescribe patients medicinal cannabis on the Government’s Special Access Scheme, more needs to be done.
“As an industry, we need to demonstrate robust clinical evidence on safety and efficacy in order to pave a clear drug registration route and convert the conversations happening at a global level into real impact in every day patient’s lives,” he added.