A UN committee voted on Wednesday to remove cannabis from the category of drugs considered the most dangerous. This long-awaited and long-delayed decision could speed up research into the medical use of the drug. cannabis.
The vote of the Vienna-based Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which comprises 53 member states, took into account a series of recommendations by the World Health Organization on the reclassification of cannabis and its derivatives. But attention focused on a key recommendation to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs - where it was listed alongside dangerous and highly addictive opioids such as heroin.
According to experts, the vote will not have an immediate impact on the relaxation of international controls, as governments will still have authority over how cannabis is classified. But many countries are looking to the global conventions for guidance, and UN recognition is a symbolic victory for those advocating a change in drug policy who argue that international law is outdated.
"This is a huge and historic victory for us, we couldn't have asked for more"said Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, an independent researcher who closely followed the vote and the position of the Member States. He said cannabis had been used throughout history for medical purposes and Wednesday's decision restored that status.
This change will most likely support medical research and legalization efforts around the world.
This vote is a "great step forward," recognizing the positive impact of cannabis on patients," said Dirk Heitepriem, Vice President of Canopy Growth, a Canadian cannabis company. "We hope that this will enable more countries to provide legal frameworks that will enable patients in need to access treatment.
Recommendations to change the classification of marijuana were first made by the World Health Organization in 2019. But they have been politically divisive, leading to unusual delays in the UN commission's vote.
The reclassification was increased from 27 to 25, with one abstention from Ukraine. The United States and European countries voted in favour of the reclassification, while China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia opposed it.
Kanabiz approves this change of categorisation, while being aware that this is just the beginning of the massive changes to come about the status of cannabis.