In a move that could have global implications for the future of cannabis, health experts from the United Nations are advocating for the formal rescheduling of the whole plant under international drug treaties.

According to a Boston Globe article, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends changes to the 1961 and 1971 treaties that would ease current classifications of cannabis as drugs needing strict control.

The organization suggests that the entire cannabis plant, including resin, should be removed from Schedule IV, which is the most restrictive category from the 1961 treaty. In addition, WHO wishes to remove THC and its isomers from the 1971 drug treaty and move it to Schedule I of the 1961 convention. They would keep cannabis and its resin in Schedule I of the 1961 treaty, as they currently fall under both designations.

In this context, Schedule IV refers to substances that are harmful and show little-to-no medical benefits. This is not to be confused with the U.S. federal system, which classes the most dangerous drugs under Schedule I.

In addition, WHO plans to clarify that CBD and its preparations that do not contain more than 0.2% THC are not under international control. Before, cannabidiol was not scheduled at all, but this recommendation makes it explicit.

Cannabis extracts and tinctures would be removed from Schedule I under this advisement, and pharmaceutical preparations with THC would be moved to Schedule III of the 1961 treaty.

While this will have no impact on the legalization of cannabis internationally, the political impact is undeniable. If these recommendations are in fact adopted, it would essentially recognize that international governments across the globe have been incorrect about the dangers of cannabis since the 1961 treaty. This could serve as motivation for numerous nations to begin loosening their prohibitions on cannabis, even if recreational use would still technically be a violation of the 1961 and 1971 treaties.

These recommendations were initially anticipated at a meeting in December, but were delayed. These proposals will instead go before the UN’s Commission on Drugs, which would offer the 53 member nations the opportunity to vote on whether to accept or reject them.

This potential change speaks to an overwhelming tidal wave of change in terms of how cannabis is viewed on an international scale. As more and more research supports the medicinal qualities of pot, the stigma of its use continues to ease. Here in Massachusetts, many have begun to enjoy legal cannabis for recreational and medical purposes. However, the creation of dispensaries is slow-going, meaning that there remains limited access to the plant. The best way to have a steady supply of cannabis is by home growing; however, most people are not horticulturalists. If you would like to explore more about this, or any other cannabis-related topic, feel free to reach out to our cannabis cultivation service in Massachusetts.