Following its first-ever critical review of cannabis, in January 2019 the World Health Organization issued a collection of formal recommendations to reschedule cannabis and cannabis-related substances. 53 member states of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) are set to vote on these recommendations in December 2020.
Among the WHO’s recommendations, two in particular appear to be the most urgent: namely recommendation 5.1 (concerning the acknowledgment of cannabis’ medicinal usefulness) and recommendation 5.4 (concerning the need to remove the term ‘extracts and tinctures of cannabis’ from the 1961 Convention). Supporting these two recommendations presents an opportunity for governments and civil society to further reform and decolonise drug control approaches across the globe, as well as to strengthen the international legal basis for existing and emerging medicinal cannabis programmes in different parts of the world.
In this regard, the recommended principle ‘asks’ for advocates and policy makers are to:
- Support the most urgent recommendations 5.1 and 5.4.
- Actively engage with CND members, emphasising the urgent nature of recommendations 5.1 and 5.4.
- Actively engage in relevant meetings and processes at the CND level, as well as emphasising the need for further follow-ups to the critical review.
- Actively engage and encourage support from other governments and key regional stakeholders, as well relevant civil society organisations, experts, and affected communities.