WHO Disappointed Faces in Vienna: Contrary to what many activists were expecting, cannabis is not going to be reclassified any time soon. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it would not be presenting its recommendation to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on schedule. Some say the real reason for the delay may in fact be political in nature.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations met in Vienna from 5 – 7 December 2018. It was supposed to be a red-letter day. Many things pointed to the possible announcement of a reclassification of cannabis, which would mark the beginning of the end of worldwide prohibition. Activists and patients who had travelled to the meeting were eagerly awaiting the World Health Organization’s recommendation. However, it was kept under wraps.
The WHO did not say anything about the reclassification of cannabis
A WHO spokesperson told an astonished public that its recommendation could not be submitted to the CND due to a lack of time. As the WHO has had nearly three years in which to complete the cannabis review process, this decision is difficult to understand.
The WHO’s actions are feeding speculation about political motives. “The topic of cannabis is currently highly politicised. I witnessed very aggressive behaviour against Canada when it voted in favour of legalising cannabis. I think it is a political football, and this may mean that the ECDD (Expert Committee on Drugs Dependence, editor’s note: acts as adviser to WHO) did not receive approval from the WHO to submit its recommendation,” says Ann Fordham, who heads the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).
We will know more in March
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is the basis for current drug laws worldwide. Cannabis is on its list of illegal substances. As a so-called “Schedule 1 drug” it is regarded as a substance that does not provide any medical benefits while having a considerable potential for abuse. This could change soon.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is meeting in March 2019 to update the Single Convention. The reclassification of cannabis will then be on the agenda. Cannabis may possibly be reclassified as a “Schedule 2 drug” or even deleted from the list altogether. It can be assumed that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs will follow the WHO recommendation in its decision. One thing is certain – there is more to come. We will, of course, keep you updated with events as they happen.