In a historic move, the United Nations (UN) has descheduled cannabis in a 27-25 vote, with the United States among those voting in favor.
The Commission for Narcotic Drugs (CND), made up of 53 countries, voted to deschedule cannabis yesterday while meeting in Vienna, Austria.
For many years, the United States pushed for drug prohibition across the world. While the United States voted yes. China, Russia, Nigeria, and Egypt voted no. Russia was especially against the descheduling. Ukraine abstained.
Among the countries voting yes were Jamaica, Canada, and Uruguay. They are all known for being centers of cannabis. Mexico, which is expected to legalize eventually, and the United Kingdom also voted for it.
“The original decision to prohibit cannabis lacked scientific basis and was rooted in colonial prejudice and racism,” said Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium.
Under the 1961 convention, it was classified as a Schedule IV drug. The UN schedule of drugs goes opposite the US schedule. Under the UN, Schedule IV is the worst sort of drug, while Schedule I is the least harmful. In the United States, Schedule I is the most harmful.
However, the vote only goes so far.
“We welcome the long-overdue recognition that cannabis is a medicine. However, this reform alone is far from adequate given that cannabis remains incorrectly scheduled at the international level,” Fordham said.
Drug policy experts expressed serious concerns that cannabis will remain in Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, maintaining it under the same strict controls as heroin and cocaine.
“The review process has been a missed opportunity to correct that historical error,” said Fordham.
While symbolic on a certain level, it could prompt other countries to legalize cannabis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the United Nations do so last January. However, cannabis’ and COVID most likely controversy stopped them until now.
The Effect of the Vote by the United Nations
The descheduling of cannabis possibly has massive worldwide repercussions for the global cannabis industry.
We live in a globalized society where most of the products sold in the United States are made overseas. It is the exception, not the rule, when things are made locally.
However, due to prohibition, cannabis has been the exception to the rule. A cannabis product sold in one state cannot even legally be sold over the state’s borders. California supplies the nation with almonds, raisins, and avocados that are shipped across the country while its cannabis cannot legally leave the state.
In a globalized market, that would likely go away. Howwever, it might help large comapnies who would want to eliminate a class of growers and middlemen who benefit from “Buy Local”.