European Commission falls short on WHO cannabis recommendations, experts say

WHO cannabis rescheduling, European Commission falls short on WHO cannabis recommendations, experts say

The European Commission’s proposal that European Union-member countries support three of the six World Health Organization (WHO) cannabis scheduling recommendations does not merit much celebration from the cannabis industry, according to international drug policy experts.

“The only good point in the draft’s common position is that the EU should support the deletion of cannabis from Schedule IV, but beyond that, there are many weaknesses and serious problems,” Martin Jelsma, drugs and democracy program director at the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, told Marijuana Business Daily.

The European Commission’s proposal to vote as a block is meaningful because EU countries represent almost a quarter of the total votes at the March session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

One of the changes recommended by the WHO and supported by the European Commission is transferring THC from the 1971 convention to Schedule I of the 1961 convention.

According to the Commission, this “implies no change in the international control level.”

But Jelsma said the Commission position “reveals a worrisome lack of understanding of the UN drug control treaty system.”

The reason is that the 1971 convention requires less frequent estimates and reporting of legitimate use by member states than the 1961 treaty.

In the case of CBD, the Commission argued that “the differentiated treatment of cannabidiol compared to other cannabinoids is not justified.”

Jelsma told MJBizDaily that this “denies the outcomes of the WHO’s critical review of CBD.”

The critical review of CBD published by the WHO concluded that “there are no case reports of abuse or dependence relating to the use of pure CBD” and “no public health problems have been associated with CBD use.”

Jelsma warned that the European Commission proposal, as it stands, could have significant unintended consequences for the availability of medical cannabis in Europe.

Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, a Michigan-based organization that helped coordinate civil society contributions to the WHO cannabis review process, said he is disappointed the Commission is not supporting any “significant change in the control” of cannabis.

“The WHO is the authority listed by the treaty itself to make these scheduling evaluations,” he said, “and to arbitrarily oppose them is to disrespect the process, the evidence and those who actually rely on medicine, the patients.”

Alfredo Pascual can be reached at