UN removes marijuana from list of World’s most dangerous drugs

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has voted to remove cannabis from the list of the most dangerous substance, which could impact the global medical marijuana industry.

According to the UN news portal, in reviewing a series of World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on cannabis and its derivatives, CND zeroed in on the decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Under the schedule, cannabis was listed alongside specific deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin, recognised as having little to no therapeutic purpose.

“The 53 member states of the CND, the UN’s central drug policy making body, voted to remove cannabis from that schedule where it had been placed for 59 years and to which the strictest control measures apply that generally discouraged its use for medical purposes,” reads the information on the UN news portal.

The decision made in late December has opened the door to recognising the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the drug, although its use for non-medical and non-scientific purposes continues to remain illegal.

In January 2019, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director General, made a series of recommendations to the UN to update the scope of control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances.

The recommendations reflect the emerging therapeutic role of cannabis-based medicines whilst continuing to prevent diversion, misuse, and other public-health related harms that may arise from cannabis use.   

Advantages of Marijuana

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According to CNN website, animal studies have shown some marijuana extracts may kill certain cancer cells, other cell studies show it may stop cancer growth, and marijuana can also prevent the nausea that often accompanies chemotherapy treatment used to treat cancer.

Using marijuana or some of the chemicals in the plant may help prevent muscle spasms, pain, tremors and stiffness, according to early-stage, mostly observational studies involving animals, lab tests and a small number of human patients, among others.

Last year, this newspaper learnt that some companies have already engaged themselves in growing cannabis although there has not been Cabinet decision made regarding the new guidelines for medical marijuana growing.

An  August 21, 2019, Ministry of Internal Affairs letter stated that Urban Properties Limited is growing cannabis experimentally as well as Prime Ranchers.

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Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, a private firm working with an Israel company, Together Pharma Ltd, is growing and processing marijuana from its Kasese facility. The company was given the licence in 2016.

When contacted yesterday of what became of the guidelines regarding the growth of medical marijuana in Uganda, Dr Ruth Jane Aceng, the Health minister, said the guidelines have not yet been approved by Cabinet. CaAsked why the Cabinet decision has not yet been made, Dr Aceng said: “A decision will be taken some day.”

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