There could come a day soon when the cannabis plant and its derivatives are no longer part of the international drug treaties.
Just last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that all components of marijuana—THC and CBD—be removed entirely from it Schedule IV classification—the most restrictive drug category of the 1961 convention.
For decades the plant has been wrapped up in international drug control conventions as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. A decision to move forward with no restrictions would eliminate any cause to enforce prohibition laws in most parts of the planet. In fact, it could give the United States government the ammunition it needs to move forward with legalizing at the national level.
Interestingly, WHO ’s recommendation was not expected to come in 2019.
Last year, there was a great deal of hope that WHO would endorse amending drug treaties to at least put cannabis in a less restrictive classification. But the agency complained that it needed more time to sort through the details before it could make a decision.
Many cannabis advocates argued that this dragging-of-the-feet was just a ploy to continue sandbagging the global marijuana movement and perhaps even sabotage a vote on the issue when it comes up this March at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
“The fact that the recommendations weren’t made today as expected could mean that when the time comes to decide what to do with the recommendations in March, it will be easier for certain countries to argue that they didn’t have enough time to review the inputs to have a position, possibly delaying the process once again,” Bruno Javier Faraone Machado, permanent representative of Uruguay to the United Nations, said in a December interview with Marijuana Business Daily.
Further reports supported these claims.
In fact, an article published earlier this month by Cannabis Wire suggested that a representative for the agency believed that the recommendation would not come until sometime in 2020. A delay of this magnitude would have been problematic, as a full endorsement is needed to even give the issue of eliminating marijuana from the confines of international drug law a fair shot at being approved.
Then out of the clear blue sky, WHO not only came through with its recommendation but it was one that was the best case scenario for cannabis reform advocates all over the world—a full deschedule.
Although the positive report doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the cannabis plant will be scratched from international drug laws—this is not the first time WHO has published a favorable cannabis report—it provides it with a clear path to bigger and better opportunities in the world of research and commerce.
Of course, some countries, like China and Russia, are expected to reject the recommendations made by WHO, but there is hope that there will be enough positive support with world leaders to usher in the kind of reform necessary to legitimize the plant.