The World Health Organization (WHO) recently suggested making changes to international laws about cannabis. In many ways, the health organization’s recommendations could create more progressive cannabis laws.
Now, it’s up to the United Nations to decide what to do. And that’s exactly what the UN aims to do at an upcoming meeting.
As countries around the world prepare for the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs this month, officials at the FDA are seeking public comments about WHO’s recommendations. Specifically, the FDA wants to hear whether or not the American public supports changing international cannabis laws.
UN Plans to Consider WHO’s Recommendation
In November 2018, medical and healthcare experts convened the 41st WHO Expert Committee for Drug Dependence. The conference discussed various issues related to drugs, public safety, and drug abuse.
At the end of the event, WHO formally recommended a couple of key changes to international cannabis laws.
First, the group suggested removing cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention. This category is one of the strictest in international law. Specifically, it is for drugs that are “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.”
Additionally, WHO recommended that cannabis, cannabis resin, and THC all be moved to Schedule I classification. Unlike in the U.S., Schedule I is generally the least restrictive category in international drug law.
Similarly, WHO suggested moving marijuana extracts and tinctures out of Schedule I. And the organization also recommended putting pharmaceutical cannabis products that have THC in them into Schedule III. This category is reserved for substances “not liable to abuse” and that “cannot produce ill effects.”
Finally, WHO suggested de-scheduling CBD altogether. If that were to happen, CBD would no longer fall under any sort of international legal control.
Now that WHO has publicly issued its recommendations, the United Nations plans to discuss them at its upcoming Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The event will take place March 18-22 in Vienna, Austria.
If the UN chooses to act on WHO’s recommendations, it could be a big step toward establishing a more progressive approach to international cannabis laws. Additionally, it could help nudge national and local governments around the world toward also adopting more progressive marijuana laws.
FDA Asks for Public Comments
With the UN’s meeting only a couple of weeks away, officials from the United States are soliciting public comments on WHO’s recommendations. Specifically, the FDA recently published a call for comments to the federal government’s regulations website.
And while the FDA is open to comments about anything related to WHO’s recent recommendations, it is a particularly good opportunity for the public to speak up about cannabis laws specifically.
“The comments received in response to this notice will be considered in preparing the United States’ position on these proposals,” the FDA’s call for comments said.
Anyone interested in participating has until the end of March 14 to submit comments. You can submit comments electronically through the federal regulations website.
Alternatively, you can mail comments to the FDA. In that case, all submissions must be postmarked on or before the March 14 deadline. Before submitting anything, it’s recommended that you review the full call for comments for all additional details.
Interestingly, the FDA’s call for comments comes amid news that the head of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, plans to step down. The news has created some additional uncertainty regarding how the U.S. will approach cannabis laws.
Specifically, it’s unclear who will replace Gottlieb, and how Gottlieb’s replacement might approach cannabis-related issues.
Most immediately, it appears that the announcement of Gottlieb’s departure has shaken up the CBD market in the U.S. As Market Watch noted, cannabis stocks saw some drops in the wake of Gottlieb’s announcement. Analysts suggested these drops were a response to uncertainty about the future of CBD regulations.