The U.S. government is preparing its position on the potential global reclassification of cannabis and wants to hear from the public first.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is calling on the public to share their thoughts on whether marijuana should be reclassified under international law.
First reported by Tom Angell for Forbes, the FDA is seeking input from “interested persons” as its shapes its position prior to an upcoming vote on accepting or rejecting recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) that marijuana be reclassified under international drug treaties.
Last month, WHO made the formal recommendation that marijuana and its key components be reclassified. Soon, representatives from the 193 Member Nations within the United Nations will vote on whether to adopt those findings. The vote could reportedly take place as early as this month.
“The comments received in response to this notice will be 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,” wrote Lowell J. Schiller, the FDA’s Acting Associate Commission for Policy, in a notice published in the Federal Register on Friday.
With the vote potentially taking place within the next few weeks, the FDA says it will accept comments from the public through March 14. However, the agency will reopen the comment period if the key international narcotics body delays the vote.
“FDA, in cooperation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will consider the comments on behalf of [the Department of Health and Human Services] in evaluating the WHO schedule recommendations,” the filing says. “Then, under section 201(d)(2)(B) of the [Controlled Substances Act], HHS will recommend to the Secretary of State what position the United States should take when voting on the recommendations for control of substances.”
The FDA put out a request for public input on cannabis scheduling last October prior to a WHO meeting in Geneva. With rare exceptions, the comments received from over 10,000 people overwhelmingly conveyed support for descheduling or legalizing marijuana.
Impact of the Reclassification of Marijuana
The reclassification of marijuana under international law would have a swift and significant impact on the global cannabis industry.
The UN currently classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the strictest category in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.
As such, member countries cannot legalize cannabis without violating those international treaties. Uruguay and Canada, member countries that have legalized recreational marijuana, are currently in violation.
Removing marijuana from international treaties or giving it a lower priority would open the door for other countries, including the U.S., to make changes to their own cannabis policies.
How to Share Your Thoughts on Marijuana with the FDA
Interested in helping shape how the U.S.’s United Nations representative votes on marijuana rescheduling? Share your thoughts with the FDA on how marijuana should be scheduled under international law here.