It looks like the World Health Organization (WHO) is finally starting to move towards reclassifying medical cannabis. Currently, marijuana is classified as Schedule I and IV in the UN Single Convention. Basically, it means marijuana has no medical value in the eyes of the WHO and is considered to be a drug of abuse.
It is noteworthy that the classification of cannabis has not changed since 1935 when the Health Committee of the League of Nations featured a report which recommended that preparations made of cannabis extract or tincture were placed under control of the second Opium Convention. In 1964, when the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs came into force, cannabis and cannabis resin have got their current international status of Schedule I and IV substances.
But now, there is hope that the UN and WHO will begin to treat medical cannabis differently.
According to a report from the Americans for Safe Access organization, the WHO's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) will hold a special session dedicated to cannabis and its potential medical value within the next 18 months. The ECDD's report says that the Committee requested to conduct pre-reviews for cannabis plant, resin, extracts, tinctures, THC, and CBD. The conducted pre-reviews will be evaluated at the upcoming ECDD meeting.
The main goal of the ECDD's special session on medical cannabis is to decide whether there is a reason to hold an Expert Committee critical review on medical cannabis. And the critical review is the first needed step towards changing the legal status of marijuana.
The process of rescheduling marijuana on the international level may take years. The UN General Assembly is the only organization that may change the UN Single Convention. But in order to change the scheduling of marijuana, the UN General Assembly must have a recommendation filed by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The CND, in its turn, may decide to reschedule cannabis only if it has a recommendation from the ECDD. And in order to file this recommendation, the ECDD needs to release a document called a “critical review” first.
The pre-reviews that will be evaluated at the ECDD's special session dedicated to cannabis are the first step towards releasing the critical review. So, it is basically the first step towards what may result in changing the international marijuana policy.
Currently, numerous international treaties and agreements, including the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, are one of the main excuses the U.S. officials use to justify the plant's prohibition on the federal level. But if the UN General Assembly decides to reschedule cannabis, it will give free rein to the U.S. authorities to stop treating marijuana as Schedule I drug.