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United Nations Pushes Back Cannabis Discussion Again

The United Nations, rather unbelievably in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, is again delaying its decision on medical cannabis reclassification. Coronavirus is, like AIDS and SARs, a retrovirus. Indeed many of the early treatments now being considered for those who develop symptoms may come from HIV drugs already tested for use in the SARs epidemic at the beginning of the century.

However antivirals are tough to take on their own, and further, patients have fairly routinely found that non-smoked cannabis, in particular, helps them deal with the not insignificant side effects of these treatments. That is also why, as of the early 1980s, Dronabinol, or synthetic cannabis, was approved for medical use.

The first country to visibly protest the decision to delay the UN reclassification was the U.S. but it is likely that this decision was also not popular in Europe, where the entire medical discussion and scheduling is in the room in a big way right now as countries move to incorporate cannabis as a prescription drug. One of the reasons that law enforcement in the U.S. at least wants a focus on this topic now is that the U.S. is also still in the throes of an opioid epidemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that cannabis be moved to the least restrictive “Schedule I” or least restrictive schedule under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule IV medication.

The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) considered rescheduling cannabis last year in March. This was delayed for a year, but at the beginning of March 2020, the committee again voted to push this to the end of the year.

Is Cannabis Actually A “Narcotic” Drug At All?

One of the larger questions in the room is whether the plant itself can be discussed in terms of a “narcotic” – especially when it is used as an antiviral rather than to help pain patients. This conversation, as a result, is likely also to see the descheduling of low THC plants like hemp. However, beyond this, the outdated science of prohibition is in the room on the viral discussion in a big way.

Of course, healthy people who consume this drug can become “high.” This is the first reason that cannabis was classified as a “narcotic.” However, patients who consume THC long term, particularly for pain caused by spasticity and viral conditions like AIDS, also report that this effect goes away with longer-term use.

All of these issues are now up in the air as the world grapples with the worst public health crisis of a generation. But cannabis, again, is undoubtedly in the room.

Be sure to join the International Cannabis Business Conference in Europe this year, starting with the rescheduled International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin at the end of July for updates on a changing international drug schedule!

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