by High Times | Updated on 2.4.19
In 1961, more than 186 parties representing the world’s governing bodies signed on to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The convention is essentially an international treaty to prohibit the production and supply of specific narcotic drugs. And under heavy U.S. pressure, the Single Convention placed the same restrictions on cannabis that it did on opium, listing marijuana as a Schedule IV drug. As defined in the treaty, Schedule IV designates a category of substances considered to have “particularly dangerous properties” in comparison to other drugs and to be “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.”
Now, more than 50 years later, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for cannabis and all of its key components, from cannabinoids to resins, to be formally rescheduled under the 1961 drug treaty.
While the WHO has not formally issued its recommendations, a leaked document details what rescheduling cannabis would entail. The proposal would eliminate whole-plant marijuana and cannabis resin from the Schedule IV classification but retain its Schedule I designation. Under the Single Convention, governments must limit Schedule I drugs to medical and scientific research purposes, among other requirements.
Furthermore, the WHO wants the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), completely removed from a separate 1971 drug treaty and added to the Schedule I category of the 1961 convention. As for cannabidiol (CBD), a principle non-psychoactive cannabinoid with tremendous therapeutic potential, the WHO says that any CBD preparation with less than 0.2 percent THC should not fall under any international control.
But the WHO’s proposals also recognize the widespread proliferation of different types of cannabis products and preparations, like extracts, concentrates, and tinctures. Under the new recommendations, those products and pharmaceutical preparations containing THC would fall under Schedule III. The 1961 Single Convention restricts Schedule III substances the least and does not require governments to authorize their import or export.
In sum, ratification of the WHO’s proposals to reschedule cannabis would amount to one thing. Namely, an admission that for decades, the world’s governing bodies have simply been wrong on the dangers and benefits of marijuana. Indeed, many governments have already come around to this fact and have scaled back or eliminated their prohibition on cannabis.
Globally, a cannabis revolution is taking place. It’s a discontinuous, uneven revolution. But recent years have seen the dramatic expansion of medical legalization globally and the passage of national adult-use laws in Uruguay and Canada. And that spells better odds for ratification of the WHO’s proposals. The WHO could present its proposals before the United Nation’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs as early as March 2019. At that point, the UN’s 53 member nations will be able to vote to accept or reject them.
It’s easy to predict how some member nations will vote on the proposals to reschedule cannabis. Russia and China, both countries with harsh drug laws, will likely reject the WHO initiative. Canada and Uruguay will of course back it, especially considering their legalization of cannabis contravenes the current 1961 treaty. But other nations will likely support the WHO proposals as well, especially those that have recently legalized medical use.
The X factor, however, is the United States. Back in 1961, it was at the U.S.’s insistence that the Single Convention placed cannabis under the heaviest control regime, Schedule IV. At the time, the U.S. argued the classification was necessary due to how “widely abused” cannabis was. And when researchers began to discover the medical efficacy of cannabis in the 1980s, thanks to the discovery of the human endocannabinoid system, there was no international effort to revise the 1961 treaty. This year, the WHO wants UN nations to vote to correct that discrepancy.
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By the 60’s, Big Pharma had known for a long time about the benefits of marijuana. It would greatly diminish their profits, if legal. The pressure the U.S. put on the organization to schedule it as an extremely dangerous drug just shows that our illustrious representatives were, probably, already being bought off by them then. Would not be a big surprise, eh? So let it go. Decriminalize marijuana across the board! Alcohol is so much more dangerous. And we allow that!
Big pharma just sees this as a cash cow. It should be legal for use in all 50 states. If they reschedule cannibus then alcohol should also be treated the same.
As a retired RN and therapist, I began to study cannabis while nursing my husband through his death by cancer. How much more benign was cannabis than I had imagined! Physicians began to ask me for availability recommendations after they discovered that demonized Marijuana was the excellent medication, cannabis. Then I learned that the best drivers among my friends had smoked high THC just before driving. One myth after another crumbled. Cannabis is a Scedule I drug as much as you are a unicorn. Alcohol, however is less benign by far with its liver damage, provoking violence, impaired driving.
Keep it the way it is now.
What a person does in the privacy of their own home is their business and no one else’s. If a person is not hurting anyone else, they have the freedom to make their own choices.
The whole schedule One and Two needs to change. I have seen countless teenagers whose underage girlfriend/boyfriend stole their medication and then the teen on the medication got charged rather than the underage teen who stole the medication in the first place.
I don’t use cannabis but I agrees is better than opioid pain killers.
For God Sake, legalize cannabis and educate the young and old how to use it RESPONSIBLY. People in the US are already using it on a daily basis. Decriminalize cannabis.
It is clear that cannabis is far less harmful than other Schedule IV drugs. Rescheduling would greatly benefit the masses. It would unlock its full potential to heal naturally.
Stop criminalizing people for using something that is safer than alcohol, and has many natural and medicinal benefits. Think of the lives that have been ruined by draconian laws related to this weed that grows naturally.
Cannabis has shown in repeated tests to be a drug to help with many health issues, e.g., cancer and migraines. It needs to be treated as a drug that’s no worst than ibuprofen, because it’s certainly not as bad as drinking to excess. People don’t die from using cannabis/marijuana/pot like they do using opioids.
Keeping marijuana illegal is kind of rediculous at this point. Demonizing, legislating didn't work. Treat it like alcohol.
It’s about time
I have been in support of rescheduling cannabis for nearly 30 years now. You're in office thanks to my vote and it's time you do something for me and support a no-brainer like this.
Just look at all the medicines we've learned about already how much farther would we be if this wasn't a schedule 1 drug we could do research. It is the will of the American people and your jobs to make it happen if not its our job to replace you with someone who will listen.
Nobody has died of an overdose, and unlike liquor it actually benefits people. I have chronic pain and am deathly allergic to both aspirin and ibuprofen. Pot has made me able to have almost a full night of sleep after years of struggle, which makes me able to function in society the next day!
Prohibition has not been effective in curbing abuse of cannabis and by making it illegal has prevented our communities from promoting acceptable boundaries for recreational use. It has also prevented the medical community from using cannabis instead of opioids even when it is proven to be a more effective treatment with fewer side affects for a particular ailment. I fully support this effort to bring cannabis classification up to date.
This is a plant! This plant has many uses, to include medicinal. It is way past time to get past the propaganda of the past and legalize and reschedule. I can't believe that Marijuana is in the same class as hard core man made drugs.
Like it or not, cannabis is becoming an entertainment drug, just like alcohol & tobacco. We need to do everything we can to get our medical research so we can effectively use it medically. We need to determine it's short term effects as it relates to driving. We need to understand its medium and long term effects on the body. And we need to determine how it should be taxed to pay for all of the work we need to do to prepare for it. At least this way people buying the product will know what they are getting and how it will affect them.
It is long overdue that we should stop the prohibition of a substance that was prohibited due to racially biased motives and was never backed by science
It never should have been illegal