UN removes cannabis from list of world’s most dangerous drugs

The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on Wednesday voted to remove cannabis from the most tightly regulated category of drugs, where it had been listed alongside deadly addictive opioids such as heroin.

Out of the 53 member states, 27 voted in support and 25 against the reclassification of the drug, with one abstention from Ukraine. 

The US and European nations were among those who voted in favour, while China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia were amongst the countries which opposed. 

The historic move is expected to open doors to recognise the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the drug, and make it easier for countries to conduct new research. 

Cannabis had been placed in the strictest control schedules for the past 59 years, discouraging all uses including for medicinal purposes.

The development comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2019 had recommended the deletion of “cannabis and cannabis resin” from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs. 
The WHO committee, in its recommendation to CND, had noted that cannabis can have adverse effects and cause dependence. But it also said that the drug helps in reducing pain and nausea, as well as easing symptoms of medical conditions such as anorexia, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Cannabis, unlike other drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and morphine, does not carry a significant risk of death, the WHO said.

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