FDA Again Wants Your Thoughts on International Cannabis Classification

The American public can submit comments on the international rescheduling of cannabis up until Sept. 30.

If you missed sharing your comments on marijuana scheduling with the United States Federal Government the first or second time around, you have another chance.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the third time has opened a public comment period regarding the rescheduling of cannabis on a global level. The comments will be considered by U.S. representatives before voting on the matter at a United Nations meeting as early as next year.

In November 2018, the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) met to conduct a review on cannabis and cannabis related substances. It was the first time the ECDD carried out a full review on cannabis since the establishment of the International Drug Control Conventions in 1961 and 1971.

WHO acts as a body to make recommendations to the U.N. on the “placement of psychoactive substances under international control.” As a result of the ECDD’s review, the WHO endorsed reclassifying cannabis and cannabis resin and also deleting CBD from all scheduling. The recommendation includes removing cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV and letting it remain solely as Schedule I, which unlike the U.S. is the least stringent category.

In January, the WHO recommendation was sent to the U.N. Secretary General. In response, a brief public comment period was opened by the FDA on the first of March to obtain feedback on the WHO recommendations.

The 14-day comment period was opened just before the annual United Nations’ meeting was to take place, during which the U.N. was poised to consider a reclassification of cannabis. According to the FDA, the comments were considered “in preparing the United States’ position on these proposals for a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, Austria, March 18-22.”

Ultimately, the CND postponed voting on the matter to give its 193 Member Nations more time to review the proposed recommendations.

FDA last October put out an initial request for public input regarding whether cannabis and its derivatives should be rescheduled under global drug treaties. More than 10,000 people responded.

How to Share Comments on Cannabis with the FDA

Americans can share their thoughts on cannabis scheduling through online submission here up until Sept. 30. The U.N. commission (CND) could vote on the WHO’s recommendations as early as March 2020 during its 63rd session.

Active Opposition to Global Drug Treaties

Despite cannabis’ current Schedule I classification under U.N. treaties, two nations, Canada and Uruguay, have already made the decision to violate them by legalizing recreational cannabis. Another member of the U.N., Mexico, is also on track to legalize marijuana this year.

The U.N. so far has not taken action against the two marijuana-liberating countries. However, during the opening statements at the 62nd U.N. session of the CND in March, Dr. Viroj Sumyai, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) made comments regarding adherence to the U.N. treaties on cannabis.

“The legislative developments concerning the “recreational” use of cannabis are a real concern not least for their potential impact on health, particularly of youth, but also because they are contrary to your treaties and the commitments you made to one another,” Sumyai stated.

“State Parties have made a legal commitment to limit the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances exclusively to medical and scientific purposes. This is the fundamental principle of the treaties. Any divergence poses a grave threat to public health, particularly among young people, and represents a challenge to the States parties to the treaties.”

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