First, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) delayed and postponed the release of its recommendations after an expert committee studied proposals for the reclassification of cannabis in international treaties. Now, yet another delay has hit that activity and the UN has announced that the March sitting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the one in December this year, will not have marijuana reclassification on its agenda.
The recommendations of WHO had initially been scheduled to be voted on in December last year, but this was inexplicably postponed.
Some of the 53 members of the Narcotic Drugs Commission reportedly claimed that they needed additional time to study the recommendations made by the World Health Organization before they can decide how to vote when a vote is called.
Other members, such as Uruguay and Norway, were disappointed that no timeline was set for when the recommendations will be considered and voted upon. There are fears that the matter may be put on the backburner for an indefinite amount of time, for political reasons.
The recommendations were widely seen as a way for many countries to be free to embark on medical cannabis research and legalization, with others taking it a step further and decriminalizing adult-use marijuana.
The WHO had recommended that whole-plant marijuana and its resin should be removed from the strictest category (Category 4) of the 1961 International Drug Convention and placed in a less restrictive category.
To put this into perspective, the U.S. system of categorizing controlled substances is different from that of the UN. For example, in the U.S., Schedule 1 is reserved for the substances that deserve the strictest controls and the restrictions reduce as the schedule number gets bigger. This is unlike the UN where the smaller numbers have fewer restrictions while the bigger numbers, such as Category 4, have more stringent restrictions.
Meanwhile, as the UN is still playing hide and seek regarding its position on the calls for marijuana rescheduling, Europe is taking a different path. The EU Parliament approved a resolution calling on member states to avail support and funding for medical cannabis research. While the decision isn’t binding, it could pave the way for widespread research and legal reforms in EU member countries. This will leave the U.S. further behind in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry.
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