2020 has proven itself a landmark year in cannabis regulation both on a national and international stage. Domestically, we have seen the reach of deregulated cannabis extend itself further than ever during this year’s elections. All states with cannabis legalization on the ballot approved of the measures. Internationally, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which serves as the United Nations central drug policy making body, voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This convention had cannabis listed alongside highly addictive opioids such as heroin and stated that substances within this category should not be used for medicinal purposes.
Coming to this groundbreaking conclusion has the CND now recognizing the therapeutic and medical potential of cannabis. Reaching this decision did not come without heartache however, and took two years of reviewing a series of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. Even then, the initiative to remove cannabis only won by a narrow margin of two votes, 27 in favor and 25 against. Also, cannabis will continue to be deemed illegal outside of non-medical and non-scientific purposes. Regardless of these stipulations it is still very clear that this vote is monumental in the scope of cannabis regulation and allows for international scientific research that may lead to groundbreaking discoveries of previously unknown medical applications for the plant.
Going one step further, WHO also made recommendations that cannabidiol (CBD) with less than two percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis, should not be subject to international restrictions. The CND ruled that CBD is currently not being regulated at the international level and therefore requires no change on how it has been dealt with up until this point.
The loosening of these international regulations is a clear sign of the times and efforts to better understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Time will tell what new developments and advancements will be made do to these decisions.