UN Delays Cannabis Scheduling Vote

Cannabis scheduling vote - UN
Image: GAD-BM

The United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs last week decided to put off an important vote on scheduling recommendations related to cannabis.

It decided to instead vote at its reconvened sixty-third session in December 2020, “in order to preserve the integrity of the international scheduling system”. It seems some delegations didn’t have a clear understanding on the implications and consequences of the recommendations.

“We do regret that the CND was unable to take action on the WHO cannabis recommendations this week, given that Member States have been working hard since February 2019 to engage in an in-depth consultative process on the legal, administrative, social, and economic impacts of the recommendations,” said James A. Walsh, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

The 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs ended on March 7.

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This can has been kicked down the road for quite a while. The USA’s Food and Drug Administration  started requesting feedback regarding cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, in response to a request from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for information in August 2017. Then in late 2017, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) declared current evidence does not justify the scheduling of cannabidiol.

In April 2018, the FDA requested feedback on availability for medical use of cannabis and derivatives of the plant, again with this information to be passed on to WHO – and the USA certainly wasn’t the only country involved in carrying out similar consultancy.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs was established in 1946 to assist the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in supervising the application of the international drug control treaties.

MJBizDaily estimates around a third of CND voting members are against any change to cannabis scheduling, another third are still trying to interpret WHO recommendations and the remainder are ready to vote – but not particularly confident in doing so.

Trivia: Some people are convinced the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 bans cannabis. What it actually states is: “The use of cannabis for other than medical and scientific purposes must be discontinued.”