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The UN Delays Voting On Cannabis

Predictably, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will not vote on the World Health Organization’s cannabis recommendations at its upcoming meeting on March 7, in Vienna.

This announcement comes as no surprise considering the release of the recommendations, on January 24, which were expected in December, were also held up.

According to the outcome of the CND's inter-sessional meeting yesterday, posted its blog, the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence "assessed four fentanyls and five synthetic cannabinoids. Concerning the review of Cannabis, the ECDD made several recommendations including dronabinol and tinctures, among others."

The UN Delays Voting On Cannabis

According to MJ Biz, the proposal, "made by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, could have a significant impact on the global medical cannabis and hemp industry if adopted."

MJ Biz's opinion is not necessarily accurate, considering U.N. member states such as Canada and Uruguay have already fully legalized marijuana, regardless of the WHO's stance on the issue. Some brave countries are progressing faster than the archaic world body can come to a conclusion or the CND will if ever, reach a consensus.

Quite a few of the CND's 53 member states requested additional time for considering the recommendations: Japan –who punish cannabis users with the same harsh penalties as heroin users; the United States –where medical marijuana is legal in 34 states, and adult use is jurisdictive in eleven, and Germany, where medical marijuana is already available in German pharmacies, though they often face shortages.

Congenial Nigeria said, "Generally we see that nations are willing and motivated to make progress."

The representative of Uruguay, whose country was the first legalize cannabis fully, stressed the necessity of not delaying the vote again without agreeing on a specific, future date.

Ironically, Venezuela, "look forward to the ministerial segment and to take decisive steps towards improving the international drug control system in harmony with human rights. We reiterate the foundations to the outcome to our understanding: common and shared responsibility; respect to health, education and human rights, interdisciplinary approach; finding common elements and flexibility; sovereignty of member states and non-interference."

According to Turkey, "We are one of the countries that tabled one resolution. Addressing precursors, there is an increasing issue according to International Narcotics Review Board (INCB), we think we should keep this on the agenda of CND and find new and affective [sic] methods and we will hold informal consultations with interested resolutions."

The cannabis rescheduling recommendations were sent to member states at the end of January, and to the Secretary-General, by the head of the WHO on January 24, instead of being announced as expected at the CND’s 61st reconvened session in Vienna.

Had the recommendations been announced at that time, member states would have had at least three months to consider the suggestions before the anticipated vote during the March meeting. Although, that probably would not have made much of a difference, considering the vote on dronabinol seems to have been postponed indefinitely.

The CND have had the opportunity to vote on rescheduling dronabinol since the WHO's initial proposal in 2012. Dronabinol is a non-proprietary name for the drug sold as trade names Marinol and Syndros. Capsules contain one of the psychoactive compounds present in cannabis and are listed as "abusable," under Schedule III of the United States' Controlled Substances Act.

Dronabinol is prescribed an appetite stimulant, sleep apnea reliever, and antiemetic. It is approved by the FDA, as safe and effective, for HIV/AIDS-induced anorexia and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting only.

The reality of the situation is CND does not have to vote, ever. The participating member states can, in fact, waffle and procrastinate indefinitely about cannabis, as they have with the WHO's recommendation to reschedule Dronabinol.

Perhaps member states should continue to progress individually, following Uruguay and Canada's lead, rather than sit around endlessly, passive aggressively pontificating and pinning their hopes on a perpetually postponed collective vote.

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