United Nations Postpones Vote on Cannabis Rescheduling

In a unanimous decision, the U.N.’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs postponed a vote on whether to adopt the World Health Organization’s recommended changes to the scheduling of cannabis.

United Nations Member States need “more time to consider the recommendations” of the World Health Organization to reschedule cannabis under international drug control treaties, according to the U.N.’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

Reported first by Cannabis Wire, the CND voted unanimously in Vienna on Tuesday to indefinitely postpone the vote on whether to adopt the WHO’s cannabis scheduling recommendations.

Earlier this year, the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) called for cannabis and cannabis resin to be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the most restrictive of all categories and reserved for substances will little or no therapeutic value.

The 193 Members of the U.N. received those cannabis-rescheduling recommendations in January. Representatives from the Member Nations will eventually vote on whether to accept or reject them, an outcome that will influence cannabis policies around the world.

The CND announced its conclusion to delay the vote in a tweet sent on March 19, saying its decision was “to provide [Member States] with more time to consider the recommendations.” The vote had already been delayed once before, when the CND decided the issue would not be taken up at its March 7 meeting in Vienna.

The WHO made its recommendations to reschedule cannabis following a pre-review and review conducted by the ECDD last year that concluded that cannabis was “relatively” safe and medicinally beneficial for a range of conditions.

Marijuana WHO Recommendations

Reactions from Member Nations

U.N. Member Nations, including the United States, could have voted on WHO’s recommendations as early as this month. The postponement is meant to give member states more time to consider their positions.

Uruguay representative Diego Olivera expressed displeasure with the delay, according to a transcript of the meeting. Uruguay, along with Canada, has legalized adult use marijuana despite that doing so is in violation of international drug treaties. He urged for a vote on the issue at the CND’s 62nd Reconvened Meeting scheduled for December, which would give Member Nations at least seven more months to consider the proposals.

“At the request of some honorable delegates who manifested that their countries were not in a position to offer an answer, [Uruguay] was forced to agree to postpone,” Olivera said.

“We must keep in mind that [Schedule] IV is the strictest category described in the document, which can restrict the work of scientists who wish to investigate the possible therapeutic effects of the plant,” he added.

The representative of Russia, who opposes rescheduling cannabis and described the rescheduling recommendations by the WHO as “flimsy,” cheered the decision to postpone the vote.

The United States also voiced favor for the vote delay, saying that the recommendations “were transmitted historically late, challenging our capacity to firm up responses from our national authorities. We recommend their postponement to 63rd Session.”

The U.S. did solicit input from the American public on the issue of international cannabis rescheduling in preparation of the vote. The Food and Drug Administration filed a notice in the Federal Register on March 1 and in two weeks received nearly 2,000 public comments, with a large majority urging for the U.S. to support descheduling and legalization.

United Nations Countries Marijuana

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