The UN commission on narcotic drugs approved a recommendation from the world health organization (WHO) on Wednesday, 3 December, to remove cannabis and its resin from its schedule IV classification under the 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs.
The designation put cannabis and one of its derivatives in a category alongside heroin and other opioids substances classified as schedule IV, which means that not only are they considered to be highly addictive and highly liable for abuse, they are also labelled as particularly harmful and of extremely limited medical or therapeutic value.
“This is welcome news for the millions of people who use it for therapeutic purposes and reflects the reality of the growing market for cannabis-based medicinal products, a group of drug policy advocacy organizations said.
Wednesday’s vote means that cannabis and its resin are no longer classified as among the most harmful substances and are acknowledged as having medical benefits, but they’ll still be subject to restrictions under the Schedule I category.
The commission voted 27-25 to reschedule cannabis and cannabis resin, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and South Africa were among those who voted in favour, while countries including Brazil, China, Russia and Pakistan voted against.
Members also rejected other four other recommendations from WHO about cannabis and its derivatives, which included removing extracts and tinctures of cannabis from Schedule I status and classifying a psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Alfredo Pascual, an analyst for the trade publication Marijuana Business said; “the message the removal from Schedule IV sends cannot be overstated, It’s an implicit acknowledgement of its therapeutical utility and that marijuana is not as dangerous as believed about 60 years ago.