There are a lot of nonsensical aspects of the War on Drugs, from civil forfeiture laws to the arbitrary taxation of cannabis businesses. One of the most ridiculous components of the Drug War has been government bodies categorizing cannabis alongside lethal drugs like heroin. Finally, cannabis will no longer be considered one of the most dangerous drugs, at least under new United Nations guidelines. Probably most important is the fact that he new scheduling of cannabis had the approval of the United States.
The New York Times covered the historic vote by the UN Commission for Narcotic Drugs. Members voted 27-25 to remove medical cannabis from the most restrictive category of the world’s most dangerous drugs. While not binding, advocates hope that this vote proves to be a watershed moment, helping pave the way for an expansion of cannabis research and reforms:
Experts say that the vote will have no immediate impact on loosening international controls because governments will still have jurisdiction over how to classify cannabis. But many countries look to global conventions for guidance, and United Nations recognition is a symbolic win for advocates of drug policy change who say that international law is out of date.
“This is a huge, historic victory for us, we couldn’t hope for more,” said Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, an independent researcher for drug policy who has closely monitored the vote and the position of member states. He said that cannabis had been used throughout history for medicinal purposes and that the decision on Wednesday reinstated that status.
Michael Krawitz, executive director for Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, an advocacy group in the United States, said the change in international law would “help reduce the suffering millions of people” and could help mitigate reliance on opiates, noting that cannabis was an important medication that could provide unique pain relief.
It is so heartening to see major progress towards ending cannabis prohibition all around the globe. With over 2/3 of American voters wanting to end the federal war on cannabis, hopefully this UN reclassification will spur Congress to act and remove cannabis away from the Schedule I controlled substances category which ridiculously claims that cannabis has no medicinal value. Step by step, state by state, government body by government body, freedom and common sense are on the march across the globe.