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UN gives medical cannabis the green light



The United Nations (UN) has voted to reclassify cannabis as a less dangerous drug and recognise its medicinal benefits in a historic moment for the industry.

A landmark move by the United Nations commission to remove medical cannabis from a list of serious narcotics has been welcomed by the sector.

On 2 December 2020, the UN Commission for Narcotic Drugs, which includes 53 member states, voted on changes in the scheduling of medical cannabis products in international law.

The vote took place in Vienna and considered a series of recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) on reclassifying cannabis.

A total of 27 states voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where it was categorised as a dangerous drug with no medicinal benefit, alongside substances such as heroin and cocaine.

Great Britain, along with other European countries and the US was among those who voted in favour of the rescheduling.

The news has been described as a huge boost for the industry and is expected to pave the way for more global research into the medical benefits of cannabis.

Neurologist and medical cannabis expert, Professor Mike Barnes said it was a sign that the world was waking up to the potential of cannabis.

“This is really exciting news for the global cannabis industry,” he commented.

“It frees up individual countries to develop their own medical cannabis market without the international controls that were previously limiting growth and international trade.

Prof Barnes added: “This vote finally recognises the medicinal value of cannabis – well done UN.”

The commission also voted to reject a WHO recommendation to exempt CBD products with less than 0.2% THC from international control, in a move that some have described as ‘disappointing’.

Steve Moore of the Centre for Medical Cannabis said: “We welcome the outcome of today’s vote which will make the process of undertaking clinical research into the therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis.

“However, we are disappointed that other WHO proposals have not been supported and will now be working closely with the UK government to ensure that the regulatory framework for the commercial cannabis extract market, particularly CBD, is robust to support the sustainable and innovative market.”

Kyle Esplin, of the Scottish Hemp Association also said the vote did not go far enough and left synthetic cannabinoids at an advantage.

He commented: “This is a step in the right direction, but considering the racist origins of these laws the changes don’t go far enough, with five of the proposals being rejected and leaving synthetic cannabinoids with a regulatory advantage.”


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