UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs votes on recommendations for cannabis susbstances

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Vienna: On 2 December 2020, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) took a number of decisions on the international control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances.

Cannabis and cannabis-related substances have for many years been included in the schedules of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol (Schedule I and IV: cannabis and cannabis resin; Schedule I: extracts and tinctures of cannabis), as well as in the Schedules of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 (Schedule I: tetrahydrocannabinol (six isomers of delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol); Schedule II: dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)). The inclusion in a specific schedule determines the control measures that States parties are required to apply to the respective substances.

In January 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a series of recommendations to change the scope of control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. After intensive considerations, the Commission took action today on these recommendations:

  • WHO recommendation to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, but to maintain it in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention: The Commission decided by 27 votes to 25 and with one abstention to follow this recommendation. Cannabis and cannabis resin will accordingly be deleted from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention. They remain in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and thus remain subject to all levels of control of the 1961 Convention.
  • WHO recommendation to move dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and tetrahydrocannabinol (six isomers of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which are psychoactive components of cannabis, from the respective schedules of the 1971 Convention to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, which already includes cannabis and cannabis resin: The Commission rejected by 23 votes to 28 with 2 abstentions the recommendation to add dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention. Due to the conditionalities included in the WHO recommendations, the Commission therefore did not vote on the recommendation relating to the deletion of dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) from the 1971 Convention. It also did not vote on the recommendation to move tetrahydrocannabinol (six isomers of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 Convention.
  • WHO recommendation to delete extracts and tinctures of cannabis from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention: The Commission decided by 24 votes to 27 and with 2 abstentions not to adopt this recommendation.
  • WHO recommendation to add a footnote to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention to read “Preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0.2 per cent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol are not under international control”: The Commission decided by 6 to 43 votes and with 4 abstentions not to add such a footnote.
  • Lastly, WHO recommendation to add certain preparations of dronabinol to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention: As the Commission had predetermined in a procedural decision, adopted at the beginning of the meeting, this recommendation was deemed rejected, due to the rejection of the recommendation to add dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.

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