Vienna, Austria, 2020
“In reviewing a series of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on cannabis and its derivatives, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) zeroed-in on the decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.”https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1079132
In a landmark decision, the United Nations Commision on Narcotic Drugs has finally removed cannabis from being classified as a Schedule IV substance. The vote boiled down to 27 nations for and 25 nations against. The country of Ukraine abstained from voting, while Russia was the biggest adversary to the ruling. The other significant decision made was to not schedule THC as a controlled substance.
What is a schedule IV substance you may ask? According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, they are “the most dangerous substances…which are particularly harmful and of extremely limited medical or therapeutic value.” As far as degree of control, they are “very strict, leading to a complete ban on the production, manufacture, export and import of, trade in, possession or use.” This was a classification that cannabis shared with heroin. Cannabis and cannabis resin will now only be labeled as a Schedule I drug.
(As a personal note, it is quite perplexing to see that it took 60 years for the world’s top narcotic experts to realize that cannabis is safer and has more medicinal value than the likes of heroin.)
It should be noted that individual governments can still schedule cannabis and its derivatives as they deem fit. Many countries do, however, look to the United Nations for guidance on such matters, and the decision to recognize cannabis as having medicinal and therapeutic properties is a symbolic one. Undoubtedly, the reclassification of cannabis will go a long way into spearheading further, less restrictive, international research on the drug.
Like cannabis, kratom is also used as a natural alternative to cope with symptoms such as pain, depression, and anxiety. Hopefully, such a ruling will pave the way for the relaxing of international restrictions on Mitragyna speciosa as well. For this to happen though, more research needs to be done.
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