Historic U.N. Cannabis Vote Could Lead To Faster Legalization
It is expected that the United Nations General Assembly (U.N.G.A.) will vote on a cannabis recommendation of the World Health Organization on 2 December.
The vote will decide whether or not to include a recommendation for THC and CBD products and, if adopted, the impact on consumers and the global industry could be significant.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical cannabis drugs would be classified as a third-stage drug and the WHO has called for a recommendation by the end of the year, according to the UN Medicines Agency.
After the original decision to postpone it until January 2019, several member states, including the United States, requested more time for a review only in February 2019. The second instance was postponed and the vote in 53 participating member states was postponed until March 2020.
Ph.D. student in socio-law, specializing in cannabis activism at Oxford University, believes the vote will be on time despite the delay. He called the first rapid assessment and consultation on cannabis "historic" and highlighted the CBD parameter, which is of particular interest.
It would be the first cannabinoid not included in the treaty and, if agreed, would welcome global trade flows, "Steinberg said. However, the vote is far from certain and a simple majority is required for it to be adopted. CBD is of interest because it was separate from the vote on the other recommendations.
Steinberg said it faced a variety of issues, ranging from health and safety issues to environmental and health risks, as well as economic and social issues.
Garrett Bain, president of EcoGen BioSciences, said the vote symbolizes progress in legalization and de-stigmatization. He hoped the planned vote could convince regulators to approve amended laws and expanded laboratory analyses. More importantly, the abolition of cannabis and the approval of its medical use would send a message of acceptance that could have positive effects on countries and states that remain strongly opposed, he added. But he said he did not expect a positive result from the vote, saying he had no certainty at this stage.
Regulation is not the only change, "said Dr. Michael O'Brien, director of the Center for Drug Policy Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
The non-binding decision will not force a global market shift, but its framework will likely influence key governmental bodies, including the UN General Assembly, the European Union, and the United States. It would also open the door to a wider range of research on the potential health benefits of cannabis and could even pave the way for the use of psychedelics for medical purposes, Kaucic said. The research could also benefit from a better understanding of the psychoactive properties of marijuana and its potential medical use.
Steinberg warned, however, that the outcome may not always be positive and that the vote could lead to a change in the United Nations' position on the use of cannabis for medicinal or other purposes.