(BERLIN) The United Nations commission voted on Wednesday to recognize the medicinal value of cannabis, marking a historic step toward cannabis legalization and drug reform for therapeutic use, The New York Times reports.
The Vienna-based Commission for Narcotic Drugs, including 53 member states, voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — which listed the drug alongside dangerous and highly addictive opioids like heroin. The reclassification passed narrowly by 27 to 25 votes, with the US and UK voting for change while Russia — leading others like China, Pakistan and Nigeria — remained opposed.
The vote, which considered a series of World Health Organization recommendations, will not immediately loosen international controls of the drug as governments still have authority over how to classify cannabis.
Yet, the U.N. recognition of the therapeutic value of cannabis signals a major victory for drug policy advocates supporting legalization efforts and medical research of the drug on patients.
Several studies suggest that products containing CBD, a non-intoxicating compound from the cannabis plant, have potential medicinal properties to treat diseases or conditions.
The World Health Organization first recommended changing the classification of marijuana in 2019, but the political divide hampered votes in the U.N. commission.
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