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UN Declares Cannabis Legitimate Medicine

Devanshi Doshi

On December 2, UN declared Cannabis a legitimate medicine. Ig took the bold step of removing cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 drug Convention treaty [1], 6 decades after its placement, recognising the therapeutic value of this century-old medicinal plant and no longer considering it as “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.” The vote followed an independent scientific assessment undertaken by some of our world’s leading experts, convened by WHO in 2017-2018, where evidence and testimonials from all corners of the world were reviewed. 

With the backing of the U.S. government, the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) adopted the proposal to delete cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention. This doesn’t mean that member nations are cleared to legalize marijuana, however, as it remains under the separate Schedule I of the international drug control system. But advocates say it demonstrates an evolution in how the international community views cannabis policy, as it formally recognises the medical value of the plant and it could promote further research into its therapeutic potential. 

In addition to the removal from Schedule IV, beyond our expectations, WHO proposed an ambitious plan to harmonize and embed flexibility into the treaty framework for the access and availability of cannabis medicines. WHO endeavoured to create space for governments to adjust their national policies to fit their needs.

The vote to move it out of its restrictive scheduling status was close, with 27 countries in favor, 25 against and one abstention. 

“The vote of the United States to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the Single Convention while retaining them in Schedule I is consistent with the science demonstrating that while a safe and effective cannabis-derived therapeutic has been developed, cannabis itself continues to pose significant risks to public health and should continue to be controlled under the international drug control conventions,” the U.S. delegation said in a statement. 

“Further, 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 of cannabis,” the country added.


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