The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis Wednesday, taking it off the strict Schedule IV list that includes dangerous and highly addictive drugs such as heroin. The U.N. still deems cannabis a controlled substance. But the move, which the U.S. supported, could ease restrictions on research into marijuana’s therapeutic use.
The 53-member commission approved the change in a close vote, by 27-25, with 1 abstention. Russia was a vocal opponent of the move, calling cannabis “the most abused drug globally.”
The UN vote follows guidance from the World Health Organisation and its expert committee on drug dependence, which had recommended deleting “cannabis and cannabis resin” from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The drug will now remain in Schedule I rather than appearing on both lists.
The vote had been closely followed by marijuana activists and the burgeoning cannabis industry, as it could bolster arguments for easing legal restrictions on marijuana and establishing consistent regulations. (NPR)