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World Health Organization recommends rescheduling cannabis, provides clarity on CBD

Member states of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) received the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence’s (ECDD) cannabis recommendations, which had been expected in DecemberMarijuana Business Daily has learned.

The CND had been expected to consider rescheduling cannabis in March 2019 at its annual meeting, but the delay in receiving the ECDD recommendations may push that consideration into 2020 to provide additional time for member states to review them.

The report recommends several changes to how cannabis is scheduled, which could have significant implications for the cannabis industry:

  • The scheduling of cannabis in the international drug control conventions wouldn’t be as restrictive as it is now, because it would be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, the category reserved for the most dangerous substances.
  • THC in all forms would be removed from the 1971 Convention and placed with cannabis in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, significantly simplifying cannabis classification.
  • Pure CBD and CBD preparations containing no more than 0.2% THC would not be included in any way in the international drug control conventions.
  • Pharmaceutical preparations containing 9-THC, if they follow certain criteria, would be added to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention, recognizing the unlikelihood of abuse.

MJBizDaily obtained and reviewed a copy of the recommendations – which have not yet been made public – on how to schedule different categories of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. Those changes include:

• Cannabis and cannabis resin

The report recommends cannabis and cannabis resin “be deleted from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs (1961).”

Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, the most restrictive category, includes dangerous substances with extremely limited or no medical value.

If this recommendation is followed, cannabis and cannabis resin instead would remain in Schedule I.

In justifying the change, the ECDD noted:

“The evidence presented to the Committee did not indicate that cannabis plant and cannabis resin were particularly liable to produce ill-effects similar to the effects of the other substances in Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. In addition, preparations of cannabis have shown therapeutic potential for treatment of pain and other medical conditions such as epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. In line with the above, cannabis and cannabis resin should be scheduled at a level of control that will prevent harm caused by cannabis use and at the same time will not act as a barrier to access and to research and development of cannabis-related preparation for medical use.”

• Dronabinol (delta-9) and tetrahydrocannabinol (isomers of delta-9-THC)

The report recommends that dronabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC and its isomers) be “deleted from the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) and added to Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs (1961).”

These recommendations would simplify the scheduling, grouping all forms of THC in the same category as cannabis and cannabis resin.

The dangers associated with THC are similar to those of cannabis and cannabis resin, so it would be consistent to have them all together in the same category, the report noted.

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