In a step reminiscent of massive change, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, or CND, moved forward toward legalizing cannabis and reforming global drug policy. On Wednesday, it voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. Schedule IV drugs, under this system of the United Nations, are supposedly the most dangerous and addictive.
The CND, based out of Vienna, has 53 member states under its jurisdiction. Wednesday’s vote came after it considered a number of recommendations from the World Health Organization, or WHO, regarding marijuana and its derivatives. This endorsement of weed by the United Nations is as big a vote of confidence as one could ever get. It has huge implications for society, business, and individuals alike.
This historic about-turn signifies an acceptance of cannabis by the governments of the world. Finally, they are recognizing the therapeutic value of marijuana and are considering making it accessible, through weed delivery and other means. Almost six decades after categorizing cannabis incorrectly, the United Nations is finally fixing its mistake, even if it still has much to learn in accurately characterizing it.
A Momentous Occasion
Drugs classified as Schedule IV exist as a subset of those under Schedule I, which mandates the strictest control measures internationally. In effect, it kept marijuana in the same drug class as heroin, which was completely illogical. The CND’s drug classifications are a mite confusing. Schedule I drugs include the most addictive and dangerous of them all, as defined under the 1970 U.S. Controlled Substances Act.
Listed on the CND’s list of Schedule I drugs are opium, cocaine, morphine, and fentanyl. However, in the CND’s system of classification, Schedule IV is merely a subset of Schedule 1, which most accept as the most dangerous drugs. As mad as it is, pot and heroin have both been sitting together under Schedule IV classification for decades. The UN and the CND considered weed worse than fentanyl and morphine.
However, last year the WHO recommended that the CND take cannabis off its Schedule IV list due to its “therapeutic potential.” It noted what has been obvious to everybody from the outset, that cannabis is not “liable to produce ill effects similar to the effects of the other substances in Schedule IV.” It took them decades to realize, or at least admit, that marijuana is not as dangerous as those other killer drugs.
Possible Implications for the Future of Cannabis
The reclassification of cannabis could lead to very real progress for the legal marijuana industry worldwide. It is especially exciting for the medical cannabis community. For some countries, this move could help to make legitimate existing initiatives to legalize. Other countries, such as the United States and Canada, will have even more justification to expand regulations already governing legal trade.
This vote by the UN could even help nudge the MORE Act into existence, which is currently under consideration this week in Congress. The MORE Act would take cannabis right out of the most restrictive classification in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. This move could also release funding for cannabis research and inspire more study to discover further the palliative and therapeutic benefits of marijuana.
Plenty More Work to Do
The WHO recommended moving cannabis from its restrictive schedule, but it also suggested five other recommendations for marijuana two years ago already. Member states of the CND considered these proposals, as well as their implications, and in March 2020, postponed this vote for more detailed study. The CND has been meeting often over the last nine months to analyze the fallout of these suggestions.
Clearly, descheduling cannabis will have enormous legal, social, economic, and other implications. The CND viewed the WHO’s other recommendations as more “iffy,” mostly because of language problems in many cases. The suggestion to legalize cannabidiol, or CBD, for example, raises questions about THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. This might lead to countries voting “no,” even if they do not oppose CBD at all.
Two recommendations from the WHO would lead to even more control over THC, with potency potentially becoming a huge factor in legality or not going forward. All this wrangling of suggestions within the United Nations will surely lead to more revisions in the future. Certainly, issues will arise that will require consideration, such as the need for marijuana delivery in a legal and accessible marketplace.
Fortunately, cannabis is already legal in California. In Los Angeles, you can search Google for “weed delivery near me” and find an abundance of options. You can buy it online. Some marijuana delivery companies can deliver it faster than you could fetch it yourself. However, it is always wise to research beforehand. Not all of these companies are licensed and legally operating. Some are outright cons.