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On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted to reclassify cannabis and remove it from the list of Schedule IV drugs.
That’s right. Congratulations are in order.
We are always on the lookout for the silver lining during grim times. And fortunately, in the now declared ‘one of the worst years’, 2020 saved a silver lining for all the medical cannabis consumers too.
For decades, cannabis use was always like walking on thin ice. Its federally illegal status, lack of research and stereotypical attitude made it difficult for even the ones in need to use cannabis without a slight bit of fear. But, as of December 2nd, 2020, you can see these restrictions slowly fading away. We can hope at least.
In the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the UN had created several categories for drugs to make the implementation of policies easier for the sake of public safety. In the convention, cannabis and cannabis resin were put under the Schedule I and Schedule IV categories.
Now, the Schedule IV category described by the US Controlled Substance Act is not the same as the Schedule IV drugs of the CND. While the former is meant for the prescribed drugs that have a very low potential for abuse, the latter is more like a subset for the Schedule I drugs.
CND describes Schedule IV drugs as ones that can be abused and are the most dangerous and addictive Schedule I drugs. The list includes heroin, acetorphine, etorphine and until December 2, cannabis and cannabis resin too.
For almost 60 years, the world lived with cannabis being illegal and categorized as a potentially dangerous substance. Its medical use also faced questions related to the lack of research and proof of effectiveness. But, the UN took a big step to right the wrong this year.
The World Health Organization proposed as many as six different recommendations related to cannabis and its derivatives two years ago. One of these recommendations was about the removal of cannabis and cannabis resin from the Schedule IV category. But, the members of the CND postponed the March 2019 voting session to study the implications of the proposals intensively and in detail.
Finally, on December 2, 2020, the members of the CND came together for voting on the recommendations proposed by the WHO. While the members rejected 5 recommendations including the one regarding relaxing international control on CBD with less than 0.2% THC, the overall vote was in favor of rescheduling cannabis.
With a majority of 27-25 (one abstention), the CND decided to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from the category of Schedule IV drug and accept its therapeutic and medicinal use. It’s no longer as dangerous as heroin which is a great deal for the future of the cannabis industry.
The rescheduling of cannabis is more important than you may think. For starters, it will open the scope of the legal use of cannabis internationally. Though the impact will not be immediate, it can be assumed that many governments will take this UN Convention as a guiding model and reform their drug policies. Since cannabis isn’t ‘dangerous’ anymore, the earlier drug policies may seem outdated after the new changes laid by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
While the non-medical use and non-medical research stay illegal, with this new step by the UN, medical cannabis finds its way into better research and helping more patients get the help they need. It is a revolutionary move that shows the acceptance of the medical properties of cannabis. As a result, the scientific research on cannabis will become easier and patients can have safe and promised results from the green herb. It was long overdue and an obstacle that acted as a major obstacle between patients and cannabis.
Another direct impact of the rescheduling of cannabis by the UN will be on the MORE Act. Though the decisions of the UN do not have any direct impact on the lawmaking of the US Government, we can expect some indirect influence on decision making. We already know that the MORE Act awaits its fate in the Senate. And removing cannabis as a dangerous substance will definitely influence the voting in the Senate, whenever it happens.
The overall impact will bring a positive change in the cannabis industry and the patients. Whether you are applying for a medical card or a license to grow 99 plants, everything will become easier than it already is. The legal aspect will become less strict and the sales and use regulations will not be something that a patient needs to be wary of.