Select Page

CND monitor 7.III.2020

63rd Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations

MONITORING COUNTRIES POSITIONS ON CANNABIS SCHEDULING VOTES

On December 4th, 2020, governments gathered in Vienna will accept or reject the changes in scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances under the international drug control conventions recommended by the WHO on the basis of science. This page monitors the positions taken by governments in this regard.

When & where

Where:
United Nations – VIC
Vienna, Austria

When:
December 4th, 2020

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Stakeholders

Decision by a vote:
53 countries

Decision by consensus:
All countries represented

Countries members of the
Commission on Narcotic Drugs
at its 63rd session (2020)

Entitled to vote on the recommended scheduling changes 

CC BY-SA 4.0 Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, 2020. [Source here]

Countries positions ahead of the vote (updated March 7th, 2020)

TEMPORARY COMMON POSITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY (4.III.2020)

A consensus among all countries party to the International Drug Control Conventions (IDCC) was found late February 2020 to postpone (again) the voting of the recommendations to the reconvened 63rd session of the Commission on narcotic drugs, taking place from December 3rd to 4th, 2020 in Vienna, Austria.

On Wednesday, March 4th, 2020, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs finally adopted the decision to postpone the vote. The decision will be published in April (in E/2020/28 and E/CN.7/2020/15). The decision reads: The Commission on Narcotic Drugs recalls its mandate to vote on scheduling recommendations as laid out in the international drug control conventions and decides to continue during its current sixty-third session the consideration of the recommendations of the World Health Organization on cannabis and cannabis-related substances, bearing in mind their complexity, in order to clarify the implications and consequences of, as well as the reasoning for, these recommendations, and decides to vote at its reconvened sixty-third session in December 2020, in order to preserve the integrity of the international scheduling system.

In his position of Chair of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, on behalf of the Commission, ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan from Pakistan introduced the draft decision by which the Commission recalls its mandate to vote on scheduling recommendations as laid out in the IDCC and “decide to continue during its current sixty-third session the consideration of the recommendations of WHO on cannabis and cannabis-related substances, bearing in mind their complexity, in order to clarify the implications and consequences of, as well as the reasoning for, those recommendations, and would decide to vote at its reconvened sixty-third session, in December 2020, in order to preserve the integrity of the international scheduling system.” The Chair precised that “It is the common understanding of the Commission members that this draft decision implies that all of the aforementioned recommendations are referred to the 63rd reconvened session for voting, thereby it is understood that the wording ‘voting’ does not preclude consensus. Further with regard to the wording ‘reasoning for these recommendations’, it is important to note that medical and scientific properties of the substances under consideration are under the mandate of WHO but there can be other administrative, social, political and legal factors in the assessment of the Member States. Therefore I have an intention to continue these consultative process in between the intersession period, with a view to have implementation of this decision in the reconvened session of the 63rd session to be held in December.”

The report of the 63rd Commission on narcotic drugs explains that:

“A number of speakers made statements following the adoption by the Commission of its decisions on the scheduling of substances.

Some speakers welcomed the decisions taken by the Commission to place the above-mentioned new psychoactive substances and precursors under international
control and expressed their gratitude and support to WHO, UNODC and INCB for ensuring international control of the most harmful substances.

Several speakers expressed concern about the increasing non-medical use of tramadol and the insufficiency of national control measures and requested Member
States to collect and share information with the international community in order to enable WHO to consider recommending tramadol for international scheduling. One speaker noted that kratom posed an increasing threat in his country.

Several speakers welcomed the decision taken by the Commission to postpone the voting on the scheduling recommendations of WHO on cannabis and
cannabis-related substances until the reconvened sixty-third session of the Commission, to be held in December 2020, as additional time was needed for well-informed, evidence-based decisions. Other speakers indicated that they would have been ready to vote during the present session but respected the need of some Member States for further consideration, and they underlined that voting had to take place in December 2020 in order to ensure the integrity of the scheduling system.

Several speakers highlighted that the postponement would allow for a more in-depth analysis of the recommendations with regard to economic, social, legal,
administrative and other factors, which States might consider relevant. It was highlighted that during the consideration of the matter, the mandate of WHO under the 1961 Convention and 1971 Convention to evaluate the scientific and medical properties of substances had to be respected. Several speakers recommended that Member States make optimal use of the intersessional period to evaluate the impact of the recommendations at the national level, involving national experts and, as appropriate, UNODC, INCB, WHO and other relevant stakeholders.

Several speakers underlined that WHO, recognizing the harmful effects of cannabis, had recommended retaining cannabis in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention,
which entailed the application of the full control regime under the Convention.”

What the report fails to acknowledge, however, is that several countries specifically commended and greeted the WHO for providing a science-based assessment and guidance for Member States with these recommendations.

 

Countries’ positions will continue to be updated below.

FOLLOW-UP MECHANISM DURING THE 63rd CND SESSION

“In the inter-sessional period, I want to continue informal consultations. Depending upon the availability of resources within the Secretariat (if the countries provide us with some extra-budgetary resources), we want to hold some open-ended informal consultations, where legal experts and domestic experts from Member States come, between now and December – maybe two meetings, possibly three meetings. There is a debate and on what are actually the implications, how is its application can be addressed.

WHO and INCB should also be part of that debate, so that there is a better clarity as memberships have continued to say that they are not really clear about the implications of some of these recommendations.

So I hope that when we go into December, more and more States have better clarity of what the implications are how to work on the recommendations and what measures they can take within their own domestic systems to address and to deal with any consequences of these recommendations.”

Elements transmitted by the "Group of 77 and China"

March 2nd, 2020: “The Group of 77 and China would like to express its appreciation for the commendable efforts of [CND Chair] in finding a way forward through informal consultations with Member States on the WHO recommendations, on the changes in the scope of control of substances of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. The Group calls upon all States to duly consider the potential social, economic, administrative, legal and other implications of WHO’s recommendations on control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances, where applicable.”

Elements transmitted by the Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations

March 2nd, 2020: “This year Member States also experience the complexity in dealing with one particular issue regarding the world drug problem: WHO recommendations on scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. The Group would be seriously remiss if we fail to recognize the tireless efforts of the Chair, Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan, in trying to bridge the differences among Member States. The Group expresses our appreciation towards his dedication to preserve the Vienna spirit of consensus. The Group reiterates that, the recommendations must be carefully and responsibly considered for the benefit of international community and society as a whole without unnecessary delay, considering that cannabis is the most abused drug in the world and these recommendations could have significant economic, social, legal and administrative impacts on society. In this regard, the Group supports the Chair’s efforts on further consultation and deliberation, with a view to achieving consensual solution and evidence-based decision.”

Countries entitled to vote:

Afghanistan
Position unknown so far.
· Algeria (2.III.2020)

March 2nd, 2020: “Algeria fully appreciates the efforts and propositions put forward by CND Chair in addressing WHO’s recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances which will hopefully reach the wise decision to postpone any action on the said recommendations. In this regard, Algeria is convinced that these recommendations will have political, social, economic, administrative, legal implications which deserve a thorough and careful examination and that there is absolutely no urgency in their treatment.”

Angola

Position unknown so far.

Australia
Position unknown so far.
Bahrain
Position unknown so far.
· Brazil (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “It is incumbent on this Commission that we review all aspects, administrative, social, political, legal, and other aspects, that are part of the mandate of this Commission in discharging its responsibilities. It is also important for the Brazilian government that these are challenges that have to be undertaken in conformity with the UN Conventions on drug control, which provide us with a very clear legal framework for its Members, that need comply with. Brazil will be participating actively in this process, and we very much look forwards to continue working under [CND Chair’s] leadership, under the time we have agreed upon in differing action on these recommendations. These recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances are very important, and we are fully confident in this time that we have given ourselves for better understanding, clarifying issues, and continuing to working together for the good of our own populations.”

Burkina Faso
· Canada (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “Canada continues to strongly endorse the treaty-mandated role of the WHO to assess and make recommendations to schedule drugs based on its expert assessment of the latest scientific evidence. Its critical review of cannabis and cannabis-related substances resulted in several recommendations with complex implications. Over the past year, CND members have been working to gain a better understanding of the WHO’s reasoning behind the recommendations and to begin to consider their potential consequences. In this regard, Canada very much appreciates the answers already provided by the WHO, the INCB, and the UNODC within their respective mandates during the 4th and 5th intersessional meetings of the CND.

It remains our view that two recommendations were ready for a substantive vote and could have been adopted today. In the spirit of compromise, we were willing to postpone voting on those items to be defined at a date this year. We are hopeful that the legal and technical concerns that we ourselves have with the other recommendations will be addressed by further examination and clarification.

Like others, Canada acknowledges that this limited period of further study will allow States to consider additional legal, policy, and administrative factors. It is now incumbent upon all CND members to make optimal use of the intersessional meetings to hear from experts, engage in dialogue and address outstanding questions. As we do so, it’s imperative that we protect and preserve the integrity of the scheduling process itself and that we ensure that the decisions we take are based on scientific evidence and fact. We look forward to fulfilling our treaty-mandated responsibilities, voting on these recommendations at the reconvened 63rd session of the CND in December.

Chile

Position unknown so far.

· China (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “China welcomes the decision of the CND on postponing the rescheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. China believes that the adjustment of control on cannabis and cannabis-related substances is very complex and professional. Last year WHO and UNODC have listened extensively to the comments of various countries and repeatedly replied to the questions which China acknowledges. We hope WHO and ECDD will continue to strengthen its research on the dangers and risks of abuse of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. China supports a continued discussion of the scope of cannabis management and comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the influence of rescheduling cannabis and cannabis-related substances on public health. China will, as always, resolutely maintain the stability of 3 UN drug control conventions, supports CND and the WHO in actively performing its duties within the scope authorized by the conventions.”


February 20th, 2020: “The Government of China expressed its opposition to any form of relaxation of the controls on cannabis and cannabis-related substances. Cannabis and cannabis-related substances were extremely harmful to society. Any trend towards relaxing controls or towards legalization would sharply boost the spread of cannabis abuse and imperil drug control efforts in other countries as well as globally. Further, evidence supporting the medical use of cannabis was insufficient. The United Nations had an obligation to maintain the stability of global drug control policy, exercise prudence when changing it with regard to the substances under control and preserve the original control frameworks when there was insufficient evidence of any need for major changes:

  1. The Government of China opposed the deletion of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, as the deletion would give people the mistaken impression that the control of cannabis and cannabis resin had been relaxed; would significantly reduce public awareness of the seriousness of the dangers of cannabis and cannabis resin; and would encourage more people, especially adolescents, to abuse cannabis. In contrast to opium, none of the phenolic components in cannabis plants had been found to be “irreplaceable” in clinical use. Further, it noted that keeping cannabis and cannabis resin in Schedule IV would not prevent the use of cannabis in scientific research and medicine and that the current value of cannabis and cannabis resin for medical use was not sufficient to support their deletion from Schedule IV;
  2. The Government of China stated that dronabinol should remain in Schedule II of the 1971 Convention. As a large number of synthetic cannabinoids were listed in Schedule II of the 1971 Convention, such as ADB-FUBINACA and FUB-AMB, the removal of dronabinol would create confusion. Further, the transfer from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 Convention would not reduce the possibility of abuse of this substance;
  3. Tetrahydrocannabinol should remain in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention, as WHO had not provided sufficient evidence to support the need to reassign tetrahydrocannabinol to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, or evidence that the degree or likelihood of abuse or use of the substance in illicit drug manufacturing would be reduced as a result of that rescheduling. If the latest scientific research had not revealed substantial changes in the chemical properties or medical applications of a controlled substance, careful consideration should be given to any changes to controls on such substances; and changes to the existing control framework should not be lightly undertaken;
  4. The Government of China noted that cannabis extracts and tinctures should remain in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, as the deletion would lead to the deregulation of cannabis and would further contribute to the development and spread of cannabis abuse;
  5. The Government of China noted that as cannabidiol, whether extracted from cannabis plants or chemically synthesized, inevitably contained trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, WHO had to provide additional sufficient experimental data, drug dependence research reports, etc., to prove that a standard of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol content not exceeding 0.2 per cent was scientific and insufficient to cause harm;
  6. Furthermore, the Government of China expressed that dronabinol should remain in Schedule II of the 1971 Convention, and it did not endorse the inclusion of dronabinol preparations in Schedule III of the 1961 Convention, as evidence supporting the medical application of dronabinol was very weak, especially when compared with the current new drugs.”
· Colombia (2.III.2020)

March 2nd, 2020: We highlight the discussions that have taken place within the framework of the Commission regarding the recommendations of WHO on the changes in the scope of international control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances, and in particular, the [CND Chair]’s leadership in this process. We hope that the decisions that will be taken do move towards a more efficient international drug control system, that can adapt to new realities, and show the benefits of regulating safe and informed access to cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.”

Côte d'Ivoire

Position unknown so far.

Cuba
Position unknown so far.
· Ecuador (2.III.2020)

March 2nd, 2020: Ecuador values the efforts made so far by the CND about the changes in the scope of control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances, and considers desirable ahead of taking the vote, that this body dedicates sufficient additional time to examine the implications and consequences of the recommendations put forwards by WHO. Representatives of the national government participated in thematic sessions, round tables and technical debates throughout 2019, organized by the CND. Ecuador helped in facilitating the collection of reliable data by filling out forms and questionnaires for reporting.”

· Egypt (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “These recommendations need to be debated combined, that no recommendation be singled-out. It is important to highlight the repercussions on various levels: health, legal level, society and the regulatory level. Therefore, enough time needs to be afforded for careful consideration of those recommendations, and to deciding how they be debated. This needs to take into account domestic legislation and legal frameworks and the capacity of Member States to take up these recommendations.

· El Salvador (2.III.2020)

March 2nd, 2020: “Thank and express recognition for the leadership and efforts shown among last weeks, that enabled us to acheive a consensus on the topic of the WHO recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances.”

 

India
Position unknown so far.
Iraq
Position unknown so far.
· Jamaica (4.III.2020)
March 4th, 2020: “Take note of the decision to continue the consideration of the ECDD’s scheduling recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances during the current 63rd session, on the understanding that definitive action by way of a vote be taken at the reconvened 63rd session in December 2020. We also wish to extend our thanks to [CND Chair] and to the secretariat for your work in the consultation process thus far.

We are of the view that this approach does not undermine the WHO recommendations which have been instructive in guiding our decision-making on scheduling cannabis and cannabis related substances. We wish to thank the WHO for its contribution in this regard.

Jamaica acknowledges that this deferral will allow Members States that require additional time to further assess the impact of these recommendations. We encourage Member States to use this time for scientific and evidence-based evaluation. We are however mindful that continuing delay will not improve access and enhance palliative care for those individuals who are suffering from illnesses and disorders such as epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and wasting syndrome. These groups require this avenue of hope where all other options have failed. Jamaica looks forward to constructive engagement across the CND membership on the scheduling of cannabis.”


March 2nd, 2020: “At the 62nd Session of the CND, in March last year, my delegation placed on record its disappointment that the WHO’s recommendations on the scheduling of cannabis were not considered for adoption. Once more, the recommendations have been placed before the Commission for consideration and we urge that Members to firmly grasp this historic opportunity for the Commission to demonstrate its capacity to operate within the context of an ever-changing and innovative world.

The recommendations serve to make significant advancement based on scientific knowledge by acknowledging the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. We owe it to the countless millions of persons in need of palliative care; to those suffering from illnesses and disorders such as epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and wasting syndrome. We owe it to them to provide this avenue of hope where all other options have failed.”

· Japan (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “On behalf of the government of Japan, appreciate distinguished delegates from Member States, colleagues from WHO, INCB and UNODC, for having held constructive discussions on the recommendations regarding cannabis and cannabis-related substances so far, and finally reaching a consensus with a massive force by those committed here. […] We suppose the recommendations have significant impacts on social, economic, legal and administrative aspects for all Member States. Since some unclear points still remain, we should have further elaborated and careful discussion among Member States to accompany us for implementation of the Conventions.

The world drug problem is remaining serious; so we believe that the unity of all Member States fighting against drugs would be the most important thing to keep on. We appreciate the CND decision to continue discussing during the 63rd CND session to achieve conclusion. We would like to support further cooperation with all Member States, WHO, INCB, and UNODC within the given time. Japan is ready to continue to actively engage in further consultations and has supported INCB to conduct analysis and assessment of the impact of these recommendations with a view to facilitating a well-informed decision based on solid evidence within the given timeline.”


March 2nd, 2020: “During the 62nd session of CND, the Commission decided to postpone the voting on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding cannabis and cannabis-related substances. In this context, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the admirable leadership of Ambassador Khan during these months in steering our consultations. His strenuous efforts finally led us to find the common ground.

Given the complexity of the issues with their potential economic, social, legal and administrative implications, and possible consequences of these recommendations on our national regulatory systems, we support further deliberations on the 6 recommendations with a view to facilitating a well-informed decision based on solid evidence within a given timeline. Jaman is ready to continue to actively engage in further consultations.”


February 20th, 2020: “The Government of Japan stated that the vote on the scheduling recommendations should be postponed again by the CND until the consequences of rescheduling had been fully assessed and noted the following on the individual scheduling recommendations:

  1. The Government of Japan could not take a clear stance on the deletion of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, because of inadequate evidence on the efficacy of the medical use of cannabis, and because of the impact on public perception of cannabis use, which might lead to loosening of regulations and to posing a public health risk;
  2. The Government of Japan could consider accepting the addition of dronabinol and isomers of THC to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and the deletion of these substances from the 1971 Convention, as long as new standards and guidelines on the implementation of control measures of the Conventions by Member States were developed first;
  3. Regarding the deletion of “extracts and tinctures” from the 1961 Convention, the Government of Japan could consider accepting the recommendation, but would first like to analyze its impact on the implementation and oper ation of the international drug control conventions;
  4. The Government of Japan stated that it could not accept the insertion of a footnote on cannabidiol preparations, as serious concerns remained. The term “preparations” applied also to non-medical products and could therefore impair the ability of law enforcement. Further, the recommendation entailed the risk of potentially loosening the control of THC, which could inadvertently increase the risk to public health. Also, the recommended 0.2 per cent threshold of THC could become a barrier for research and development of future CBD medicinal products. Therefore, the threshold should not be specified and should be delegated to the pharmaceutical regulation of each State party. There was a need for further clarification on the threshold, as WHO indicated that it was specified by dry weight as a proportion of the total weight of the cannabis plant material;
  5. At this time, the Government of Japan could not accept the addition of pharmaceutical preparations of dronabinol to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention, as it might contribute to the abuse of THC due to the ambiguous terms of “preparation” and “pharmaceutical preparations”.”
Current drug name(s) Current régime(s) of control Action recommended by the World Health Organization  Majority required Position taken by Japan ahead of the vote
5.1 Cannabis & Cannabis resin

1961-IV

1961-I

Delete from 1961-IV More positive than negative DELAY

5.2.1

5.2.2

9-THC

Dronabinol (and its stereoisomers)

1971-II Add to 1961-I More positive than negative MAYBE
Delete from 1971-II 35 positive votes

5.3.1

5.3.2

THC isomers

Isomers of Δ9-THC: Δ6a(10a)-THC, Δ6a(7)-THC, Δ7-THC, Δ8-THC, Δ10-THC, Δ9(11)-THC

1971-I Add to 1961-I More positive than negative MAYBE
Delete from 1971-I 35 positive votes
5.4 Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis 1961-I Delete from 1961-I More positive than negative MAYBE

Preparations of THC isomers

Preparations of ∆9-THC

1971-I

1971-II

5.5 Cannabidiol n/a Do not add No action NO

Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis

or Preparations of THC isomers

or Preparations of ∆9-THC

(only some)

1961-I Add footnote to Cannabis & Cannabis resin in 1961-I on preparations of cannabidiol with less 0.2% of ∆9-THC More positive than negative
5.6 1961-I

Add to 1961-III

(if compounded as pharmaceutical preparation in such a way that ∆9-THC cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health)

More positive than negative NO

1971-I

1971-II

· Kazakhstan (2.III.2020)

Match 2nd, 2020: “Казахстан придерживается позиции о необходимости неукоснительного 6 соблюдения положений конвенций в отношении каннабиса и его производных. В этой связи полагаем преждевременной корректировку подходов к обеспечению мер международного контроля за его оборотом.”

· Kenya (4.III.2020)
March 4th, 2020: “We note the postponement of the matter, and thank [CND Chair] for providing Member States with more time to review the proposal presented by WHO, and appreciate the work of WHO providing evidence-based recommendations to guide our scheduling mandate. I, however, wish to reiterate my delegation’s position on this matter, as read in our statement yesterday [see below] and to state that my delegation is not persuaded that WHO report addresses some of the logistical difficulties of guiding against diversion of cannabis to illicit markets. Our objection to this proposal is also informed by the fact that cannabis is the most problematic substance of abuse, responsible for the highest number of persons with substance use disorders. We see this rescheduling proposal as a formal legalization beyond the [???] provided by the current régime of the CND. We are convinced that the 3 international Conventions already provide access to such drugs and substances for medical and scientific purposes. Approving the WHO proposal will also result in a misunderstanding, and therefore result in uncontrolled abuse and misuse of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. I call upon the other Member States to take advantage of the time given to reflect on the impact of this proposal, so as to make an informed choice in December during the reconvened session of the CND.”


March 3rd, 2020: “It is our belief that the Conventions provide sufficient safeguards that allow access to such drugs and substances for medical and scientific purposes. We once again echo our strongest opposition to any attempt to push for the legalization of Cannabis and other controlled substances for any reason other than medical and scientific purposes. It is important to note that majority of developing countries are yet to establish effective and enforcement drug control mechanisms and legalizing these substances for recreational purposes will strain the already weak control mechanisms.”

Kyrgyzstan
Position unknown so far.
Libya

Position unknown so far.

· Mexico (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: Mexico aligned with the position contained in the statement of European Union member states and other countries [see EU position from March 4th, in the toggle “European Union” below].

March 4th, 2020: “One of the fundamental tasks of the CND is taking action in order to amend the Schedules for the international control of substances. Failing to fulfil this mandate set forth in the Conventions themselves, would mean sharking our role as a principal organ to address the world drug problem. In addition to having joined the statement delivered by the representative of the European Union, I would like to convey that, as Mexico sees it, postponing the taking of action on the recommendations of ECDD of the WHO based on the scientific analysis of cannabis and its derivatives, should not merely mean ‘postponing the date’ for this action; quite the contrary, rather it should compel us to ramp up our joint effort in order to better understand the technical interpretations and implications, in order to, therefore, fully carry out our role within the international drug control system, and thus carry out and fulfil our mandate. 

Undoubtedly, this is a very different time compared to that of 1961, when the Single Convention was adopted, and therefore Mexico once again recognizes the role and work of the WHO in undertaking a critical examination of cannabis and its derivatives. A plant which indeed was included in the control Schedules without prior analysis regarding its possible therapeutic properties, scientific uses, or psychoactive characteristics.

My country trusts that under [Chair’s] guidance and UNODC secretariat, we will start as of now our substantive work, bringing us up to December 2020. And, inter alia, Mexico believes that together, we could address the following tasks.

 – Identifying the recommendations that require further study; it is clear for everyone, for instance, that recommendation 5.1 does not require additional technical clarification. That is clear.
 – Carry on informal consultations to focus on those recommendations that are intrinsically interlinked., as well as other consultations in order to address pending consultations.
 – In order to prepare thoroughly for these consultations, we are committed to ensuring that [CND Chair] receives in due time indications from the Member States, regarding the bodies – in addition to WHO, the INCB and the UNODC – that should be convened in this exercise, given that they can provide valuable opinions, allowing us to fully understand the implications of these recommendations. Entities such as the World Customs Organization or the World Trade Organization.”


March 2nd, 2020: “Tenemos la obligación de cumplir con los roles que nos marcan nuestros acuerdos internacionales, por ejemplo, en materia de cambios en las listas de fiscalización internacional. Tenemos ante nosotros la obligación de tomar acción sobre las recomendaciones del Comité de Expertos en Farmacodependencia de la Organización Mundial de la Salud que resultaron del análisis crítico a la cannabis y sus derivados, análisis al cual le dimos la bienvenida. Para México, la posibilidad de posponer esa toma de acción no debe ser pretexto, sino que debe orientarnos a reconocer y reafirmar el papel clave de los órganos mandatados por los tratados, y obligarnos a debatir más que nunca sobre aquello que debe cambiar para mejorar la política internacional de control de drogas.”

Morocco

Position unknown so far.

Nepal
Position unknown so far.
· Nigeria (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “Nigeria recognizes the Treaty-mandated role of the WHO in recommending changes to the control measures for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The Commission has continued to play its role, in promptly implementing scheduling recommendations by WHO, especially where they pose no challenges to clarity.

However, my delegation has expressed serious concerns about the recommendations by WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence on the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. We believe that the reasons offered by ECDD for the recommendations are insufficient. Besides, the reasons relate only to scientific basis: no explanation has been profiled for the social, logical administrative and technical ramifications.

My delegation is also deeply concerned about global perception of such rescheduling proposal, which may be viewed as a shift and support for legalization of non-medical or recreational use of cannabis. This situation is further compounded by growing and disturbing appetite, in some jurisdictions, to legalize non-medical or recreational use of cannabis, as reported in the 2019 report of the INCB. Similarly, the 2019 World Drug Report identifies cannabis as the most abused substance in the world, posing serious threats to security, health and well-being of the global population. We reiterate that legalization of non-medical use of cannabis is a violation of international obligations under the drug control treaties. At the national level, cultivation and high traffic in cannabis still persist in Nigeria. These have necessitated us to prioritize our farmland identification and destruction strategy, which has resulted in the destruction of several hectares of farmland. 

Rescheduling cannabis in the manner proposed will be counter-productive to our prevailing situation on drug control efforts.

We are also concerned about the linkage between abuse of cannabis and rate of crime, including insurgency and banditry in Nigeria. Our national drug use survey launched in January 2019 revealed that over 10 million persons abuse cannabis in Nigeria in one year alone. Similarly, the report of the Nigeria Epidemiology Network of Drug Use shows that over 80% of those that access treatment abuse cannabis. It is against this background that the merits of the recommendations by WHO’s ECDD continue to face serious scrutiny. No meaningful action could have been taken by the Commission under the prevailing situation.”

February 20th, 2020: “The Government of Nigeria noted with concern that the questions raised with regard to the recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances had not satisfactorily been addressed by the World Health Organization.”

Pakistan (chair)
Position unknown so far.
Peru
Position unknown so far.
· Russian Federation (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “We align ourselves with your postponement decision. We are pleased that, as an outcome of the complex consultations, all members of the Commission shared their commitment to the Vienna spirit of consensus on such a sensitive and delicate issue. At the same time, my delegation would also like to underscore that the adoption of a substantive decision, by the Commission, on such a serious problem, requires solid evidence basis and comprehensive analysis of medical, scientific, legal, economic, social, administrative and other aspects of these recommendations. This is an issue of the prestige, authority, and trust placed in our Commission.

Unfortunately, to date, we have not seen any convincing exhaustive arguments to support the proposals which came from the international experts at the WHO.

We suggest the task of Commission at this stage is also to analyze what is behind the need to weaken controls on cannabis, which remains the most abused narcotic drug in the world. We hope that we will manage to receive answers to these questions during the intergovernmental meetings planned for the second half of the year in Vienna with participation of expert representatives from Ministries of health, law enforcement, as well as legal experts, to look at these 6 recommendations by WHO. We believe that this process will be open to all interested Member States of the UN. We are certain the results from this expert format will allow our Commission to adopt a well-considered and objective decision on the issue of cannabis.

In order to study this issue in detail, in addition to the opinion WHO, we need the opinion of INCB, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Conventions. It will be important to receive the legal conclusions of the [INCB] with regard to the cannabis control regime, included alleged existing limitations in the use of this narcotic in regards to medical and scientific purposes.

It would also be a good idea to analyse the precedents for the revision by the Commission of the scheduling of other substances from the point of view of their exclusion from Schedules. Russia intends to actively participate in work on this issue and we are counting on constructive cooperation with all delegations. We hope the objective dialogue in its expert format will allow Member States to determine their positions at the reconvened 63rd session of the Commission, and allow them to take a well-considered and objective decision on these recommendations.”

February 20th, 2020: The Government of the Russian Federation stated that a decision by the Commission to relax cannabis control would indirectly encourage the liberal experiments in a number of countries on full or partial legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in violation of their obligations under the international drug control conventions. The removal of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention would inevitably be perceived by society, especially young people, to mean that the drug was harmless. Diminished awareness of the risks associated with cannabis abuse would in turn lead inevitably to an increase in drug abuse among young people and entail serious social consequences. Further, the deletion of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV would mean that the parties to the Convention would be limited in their ability to apply stricter national control measures to cannabis according to their specific circumstances.

 

Current drug name(s) Current régime(s) of control Action recommended by the World Health Organization  Majority required Position taken by Russia ahead of the vote
5.1 Cannabis & Cannabis resin

1961-IV

1961-I

Delete from 1961-IV More positive than negative NO

5.2.1

5.2.2

9-THC

Dronabinol (and its stereoisomers)

1971-II Add to 1961-I More positive than negative NO
Delete from 1971-II 35 positive votes

5.3.1

5.3.2

THC isomers

Isomers of Δ9-THC: Δ6a(10a)-THC, Δ6a(7)-THC, Δ7-THC, Δ8-THC, Δ10-THC, Δ9(11)-THC

1971-I Add to 1961-I More positive than negative NO
Delete from 1971-I 35 positive votes
5.4 Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis 1961-I Delete from 1961-I More positive than negative NO

Preparations of THC isomers

Preparations of ∆9-THC

1971-I

1971-II

5.5 Cannabidiol n/a Do not add No action NO

Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis

or Preparations of THC isomers

or Preparations of ∆9-THC

(only some)

1961-I Add footnote to Cannabis & Cannabis resin in 1961-I on preparations of cannabidiol with less 0.2% of ∆9-THC More positive than negative
5.6 1961-I

Add to 1961-III

(if compounded as pharmaceutical preparation in such a way that ∆9-THC cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health)

More positive than negative NO

1971-I

1971-II

· South Africa (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “The South African Government has carefully considered and read the recommendations of the World Health Organisation’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence regarding the proposed changes to the scheduling of cannabis, its tinctures, extracts, cannabis resin, dronabinol, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol from the schedules and/or tables of the three international drug control conventions.

We commend the World Health Organisation for providing Member States with scientific and evidence-based information in assisting member states to formulate drug policies and programs to counter and address the world drug problem.

We are of the view that the recommendations are sound, balanced, and based on a critical review of the scientific evidence. These recommendations will serve as an important guide on how Member States should schedule the substances in their domestic legislation.

In conclusion, my government re-upholds its commitment to upholding the international drug control system as the foundation of its policy on drugs and related substances and ensures that the mission of its intention continues to comply with international obligations accordingly.”


March 2nd, 2020 (text): “My delegation would like to take this opportunity to express sincere appreciation for efforts in handling the process relating to the recommendations from the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence relating to cannabis and to commend Member States for upholding the Vienna spirit of consensus on this matter. While my government has kept a close ear to these recommendations and is already in a position to support the WHO’s ECCD recommendations as related to cannabis, my delegation will continue to work with member states in arriving at a mutual/amicable solution.”

· Switzerland (4.III.2020)
March 4th, 2020: “For more than one year, Member States have had the opportunity to use intersessional CND to pose questions and to decide on their positions. Switzerland was prepared to vote on the recommendations during this CND and we regret that some Member States were not. We accept that they need more time to further consider the implications and consequences of the recommendations so they can make the necessary evidence-based assessments in order to vote on the issues in December, this year, at the reconvened CND.

We need to show the world, beyond the CND, that we are ready to assume our responsibility according to international drug control Conventions. That the international scheduling system still works and most of all that the international scheduling system is credible and fit for the future.”


March 2nd, 2020: “To address complex issues, it is high time to give due weight to scientific evidence and to a coherent scheduling of substances under the international drug control regime.”

Thailand
Position unknown so far.
Togo

Position unknown so far.

· Turkey (20.II.2020)

The Government of Turkey stated that it did not support the recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances, because cannabis was not an irreplaceable substance for medical purposes, and changing the scheduling resulted in an increase in the use of narcotics, as it was being observed in some countries which had legalized the production of cannabis.

Source: E/CN.7/2020/CRP.9

Current drug name(s) Current régime(s) of control Action recommended by the World Health Organization  Majority required Position taken by Turkey ahead of the vote
5.1 Cannabis & Cannabis resin

1961-IV

1961-I

Delete from 1961-IV More positive than negative NO

5.2.1

5.2.2

9-THC

Dronabinol (and its stereoisomers)

1971-II Add to 1961-I More positive than negative NO
Delete from 1971-II 35 positive votes

5.3.1

5.3.2

THC isomers

Isomers of Δ9-THC: Δ6a(10a)-THC, Δ6a(7)-THC, Δ7-THC, Δ8-THC, Δ10-THC, Δ9(11)-THC

1971-I Add to 1961-I More positive than negative NO
Delete from 1971-I 35 positive votes
5.4 Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis 1961-I Delete from 1961-I More positive than negative NO

Preparations of THC isomers

Preparations of ∆9-THC

1971-I

1971-II

5.5 Cannabidiol n/a Do not add No action NO

Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis

or Preparations of THC isomers

or Preparations of ∆9-THC

(only some)

1961-I Add footnote to Cannabis & Cannabis resin in 1961-I on preparations of cannabidiol with less 0.2% of ∆9-THC More positive than negative
5.6 1961-I

Add to 1961-III

(if compounded as pharmaceutical preparation in such a way that ∆9-THC cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health)

More positive than negative NO

1971-I

1971-II

· Turkmenistan (20.II.2020)

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Turkmenistan considered the deletion of cannabis and cannabis related substances from the 1961 Convention inexpedient.

· Ukraine (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: Ukraine aligned with the position contained in the statement of European Union member states and other countries [see EU position from March 4th, in the toggle “European Union” below].

· United Kingdom (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: “Expressing the UK gratitude to the WHO, UNODC and INCB for their work on the recommendations we voted on this morning. We fully support the ongoing role of the WHO, UNODC, and INCB to ensure that international controls are in place for the most harmful substances. Turning to the recommendation on cannabis and cannabis-related substances, we would first like to thank the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence for their work on the recommendations and for their participation in the intersessional meetings to date. The UK continues to fully support the treaty mandated role of the WHO. It is important to underline that the WHO ECDD recommendations reaffirm that cannabis is subject to the full scope of international controls of the 1961 Single Convention. Due in particular to the high rates of public health problems arising from cannabis use and the global extent of such problems. We were ready to vote on the recommendations at this session but respect the consensus decision of the commission to postpone. We trust that through your leadership the CND will conclude on this process for a vote on the recommendations during the reconvened session in December. This is imperative so as to ensure that we preserve the integrity and credibility of the international scheduling system.”


March 2nd, 2020: “We note the Commission was able to come to consensus on the way forward World Health Organisation’s recommendations regarding cannabis and related substances, but it is imperative that the vote takes place in December in order for the CND to fulfil its treaty mandated role”

· United States of America (4.III.2020)

USA

March 4th, 2020: “The United States would like to echo the statement of the EU and Canada this morning [see statement of the EU from March 4th, in the toggle “European Union” below] and offer these additional remarks to highlight key concerns to the United States.

We join consensus on the decision to vote on the WHO’s cannabis-related recommendations at the reconvened session in December in order to allow the members of the Commission and other Member States an opportunity to share their views on the economic, social, legal and administrative and other relevant factors raised by the WHO cannabis recommendations.

We recognize that differences in national situation will result in a diversity of viewpoints; we believe this is an important part of this process.

We will do our part and we urge the CND and other Member States to join us in committing to effectively studying these issues throughout the intersessional period so that all countries are prepared to cast their votes in December focusing on those questions which are within the CND’s mandate to consider and not question seeking to undermine or challenge the underlying scientific evidence.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly we wish to underscore the significance of the WHO’s critical review of cannabis but also put in perspective: the scientific review conducted by the WHO reaffirms the placement of cannabis under Schedule I of the Single Convention, the strictest set of controls in the 1961 Convention.

This is a major milestone in our collective efforts to control narcotic drugs liable to be abused, but also possessing the potential of therapeutic value. But as important as these cannabis figures are, we cannot lose sight of the stark reality that the world drug problem is vast and multi-faceted, and that much work remains to address the drug threats that are killing all our citizens today.

This important work cannot be sidelined by other deliberations, so the United States reaffirms its support for the efforts of the Chair and Member States to use these next 6 months productively so that the CND is ready to vote on the WHO recommendations in December. We look forward to our good work together. I thank you Chair.”


March 2nd, 2020: “Member states also must support and utilize the international scheduling system provided in our treaties to respond to new and evolving challenges. Data should be the primary driver of this process. We support the role of the WHO to recommend changes in international control based on their scientific, evidence-based assessments of risks of abuse, dependence, and harm to health of substances.

As the WHO accelerates the rate at which it can assess substances, it is especially important that the CND respond to all WHO recommendations in a timely manner. This includes making difficult decisions on cannabis, so that the commission can return its focus to more urgent drug control threats that are killing many of our citizens and undermining our security and public health. The United States remains firmly committed to consensus-based decision making here at the CND, including on this week’s procedural decision to vote on the cannabis recommendations at the Reconvened CND in December. We do regret that the CND was unable to take action on the WHO cannabis recommendations this week, given that Member States have been working hard since February 2019 to engage in an in-depth consultative process on the legal, administrative, social, and economic impacts of the recommendations. We would like to thank the WHO, the INCB, and UNODC for participating in all those sessions. It is now the responsibility of Member States to continue this process through the CND in a manner that ensures they arrive at the Reconvened session in December prepared to cast their votes.

It is important to highlight that the WHO recommendations have drawn our attention to important questions regarding the proper administration of the drug control system. In the absence of a timely response from the CND, these questions may give rise to discrepancies and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by traffickers, ultimately weakening the international drug control system. This lends urgency to our efforts. We look forward to working together to find creative and effective solutions to these challenges so the Commission can return to more urgent priorities.

The CND is a time-honored forum for sharing expertise and coordinating new and traditional partnerships. We must remain nimble to adapt to the drug-related challenges of today and tomorrow. The conventions give us the tools we need, and we look forward to working together with other member states to live up to our commitments and demonstrate our values through concrete action.”


January 2020: Document circulated with the following elements:

Unclassified – Handout for External Use:
Possible Responses to WHO/ECDD Cannabis Scheduling Recommendations

The international scheduling process is an essential tool for countering the world drug problem. Over the last several years, bringing additional substances under international control faster and more efficiently has been a central pillar of the world’s strategy to address the emerging threats of new psychoactive substances, fentanyl-related drugs and other synthetic opioids, and other dangerous substances. It is therefore vital that the international community continues to view the international scheduling process as functional, consensus driven, and responsive to scientific analysis. A failure to engage meaningfully with the WHO/ECDD’s cannabis scheduling recommendations could incorrectly imply that the CND and the international drug control treaties are ill-suited to tackle modem challenges. We cannot allow this perception to dominate the narrative of the CND’s debates over cannabis regulation; however, at the same time, Member States have expressed substantial confusion over the underlying meaning and potential impact of some of the WHO’s recommendations on cannabis, and many delegations are keen to study them in more depth before taking action on some or all of these proposals.

In some cases, the WHO/ECDD’s cannabis scheduling recommendations appear to have identified solutions to issues that not all CND members agree are problematic. The first step in building consensus is to identify clearly the issues the recommendations seek to address. Next, we must ask if we can agree on whether these issues are actually problematic. Finally, the Commission has a responsibility to consider the administrative, legal, socio-economic, and political considerations associated with the solutions proposed by the WHO/ECDD. Even if we decide that the costs of the solutions put forward by the WHO/ECDD outweigh the benefits, it is our responsibility to examine if we can propose alternative solutions, outside of the international scheduling process, that would address the issues identified by the WHO/ECDD.

In this spirit, the United States has developed discussion points and a wide range of possible solutions for each of the proposed WHO/ECDD recommendations. We have considered in this context that the CND has many different tools available to it beyond simply voting on scheduling decisions. This paper is intended only to serve as a starting point for further discussion among Member States, with a view to designing a pragmatic and balanced approach to discussing cannabis scheduling at the CND in the future. It is possible that the Commission may find itself in a position to take action on certain WHO recommendations in the short term — perhaps even at the 63″1 CND in March 2020 — while preferring to engage in a longer-term process to analyze the content, justification, and potential impact of other WHO recommendations. This paper is intended to help facilitate discussion regarding those actions that may be more appropriate for short-term consideration, and those which may benefit from additional consultation and review.

Recommendation 5.1

Decision Text: Delete Cannabis and Cannabis Resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention (retain in Schedule I).
Issue(s) Identified: Schedule IV classification may entail unnecessary barriers to research into the medical or scientific benefits as well as any consequent harms associated with use of the cannabis plant (and cannabis resin) and its constituent compounds (THC, CBD, etc.).
Is this Problematic: It is unclear what specific barriers Schedule IV entails that inhibits research into the scientific or medical benefits of cannabis. Germany, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, and several other countries, for example, have robust industries growing cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, despite cannabis’ Schedule IV listing. On the other hand, the WHO has said certain unspecified countries may place additional control measures on substances listed in Schedule IV and noted the effect of scheduling that has been reported by some countries. Similarly, scientists, doctors, and researchers in many countries, especially in countries with less developed regulatory systems, may believe that substances listed in Schedule IV are too dangerous for experimentation. A Schedule IV listing could therefore be seen as causing a psychological chilling effect on cannabis research globally, even as the effect varies by country.
Pros to adopting WHO recommendation: • Although the body of robust science is growing, there remains limited scientific evidence from well-controlled clinical studies to determine the safety and effectiveness of potential therapeutic uses of the cannabis plant. At least a few safe, effective, and authorized medications have been developed from cannabis to date (Sativex, Marinol, Epidiolex, etc.) demonstrating that the constituents contained in the cannabis plant do have therapeutic uses. While a schedule IV classification does not prevent the use of cannabis for research purposes, a statement encouraging research would be beneficial to the advancement of collective knowledge of both the therapeutic utility as well as any associated harms of cannabis. • Similarly, there is limited research regarding the problems associated with cannabis use and the public health threat of cannabis dependence. Encouraging countries to make cannabis available for research purposes would allow for advancing study of these important issues. • Schedule IV only invites member states to consider “special measures of control” over substances that have “particularly dangerous properties,” but does not place any additional mandatory controls on those substances. In practice, because cannabis is also listed in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, most signatories already have domestic laws in place to regulate cannabis cultivation and distribution for medical and scientific purposes at or above the strictest levels required under the Conventions. Therefore, the recommendation has little practical impact on domestic laws or regulations. • Before the current review, the WHO had never conducted a formal review and scientific analysis of cannabis. The WHO’s recommendation to keep cannabis in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention (the strictest level of substantive control) after a thorough review of the available scientific literature could send a strong message that the high abuse potential and ill effects associated with use of cannabis and cannabis preparations are similar to other drugs in Schedule I and pose a significant public health risk.
Cons to adopting WHO recommendation: • It is possible that civil society, the media, and the general public will view deleting cannabis from Schedule IV as a first step toward widespread legalization of marijuana use, especially without proper messaging. • It is possible that a decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV could be misinterpreted publicly to imply that Schedule N control levels pose inherent barriers to research, and that the international drug control framework is incompatible with such scientific research. This challenge would be possible to mitigate through an explanatory statement by the CND to clarify that the international drug control framework is effective and both promotes research and responds to available scientific evidence.
Possible Solutions: Whether we decide to accept, reject, return, or postpone consideration of the recommendation, the CND may wish to consider adopting an explanatory statement, either attached to the decision itself or as a separate resolution, that contains the following elements: • Thanks the WHOIECDD for its recommendations. • Acknowledges that cannabis was placed in Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention without the benefit of knowing about many of its constituent compounds, such as THC and CBD, and their effects on the human body. • Highlights that the WHOIECDD’s recommendation to retain cannabis in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention after a thorough scientific review demonstrates the significant risks to health associated with cannabis use, especially high potency preparations. • Stresses the need for further systematic research into both the health risks of cannabis and potential therapeutic uses. • Reminds signatories that even Schedule IV listings do not prohibit scientific research and invites signatories to remove unnecessary barriers to research wherever possible, taking into consideration the need for controls to prevent diversion and other illicit activity. • Invites UNODC, INCB, and international partners to continue providing technical assistance and capacity building efforts to law enforcement officials and public health practitioners to strengthen international control measures, address the public health consequences of cannabis abuse, and improve treatment techniques.

Recommendations 5.2.1, 5.2.2, 5.3.1, and 5.3.2

Decision Text: • Add Dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol) to Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (5.2.1). • Delete dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) from the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, Schedule II, subject to the Commission’s adoption of the recommendation to add dronabinol and its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (5.2.2). • Add Tetrahydrocannabinol (understood to refer to the six isomers currently listed in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances) to Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, subject to the Commission’s adoption of the recommendation to add dronabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in Schedule I (5.3.1). • Delete Tetrahydrocannabinol (understood to refer to the six isomers currently listed in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances) from the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, subject to the Commission’s adoption of the recommendation to add tetrahydrocannabinol to Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (5.3.2).
Issue(s) Identified: The justification for these recommendations cited by the WHO/ECDD is that moving control of these substances from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 Convention will “greatly facilitate the implementation of the control measures in Member States.” During the June 23 and September 23 CND intersessional sessions the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and several other Member States pressed the WHO/ECDD, INCB, and UNODC to explain what specific control measures would be improved. The only explanation provided by WHO/ECDD, INCB, and UNODC is that Member States will be better able to understand reporting requirements to the INCB. Therefore, the issue appears to be that the INCB’s reporting mechanism for these substances is currently inadequate to address changes to how the substances are produced and categorized.
Is this Problematic: The U.S. agency responsible for reporting to the INCB has not reported any difficulties or confusion. Other countries may feel differently. This issue most likely impacts to the greatest degree large cultivators of licit cannabis, such as Australia. It may be beneficial, therefore, to focus inquiries on these countries. It should be noted that reporting under the 1961 Convention is mandatory and occurs yearly, whereas reporting under the 1971 Convention is voluntary and occurs once every three years.
Pros to adopting WHO recommendation(s): • Additional reporting on cannabis may provide additional information policy makers can use to make informed decisions about programmatic efforts and other issues. • Confusion about how to report to the INCB may be reduced among certain Member States.
Cons to adopting WHO recommendation(s): • The WHO/ECDD has provided no public health justification for these recommendations. They appear purely administrative in nature. • The removal of THC and its isomers from the 1971 Convention and their placement in the 1961 Convention could raise issues concerning whether THC found in or derived from the leaves or from cannabis cultivated for industrial or horticultural purposes is still under control. Pursuant to the 1961 Single Convention, cannabis as scheduled does not include the leaves, and pursuant to article 28, cannabis cultivated for industrial or horticultural purposes is not subject to the Convention. The authority to schedule substances does not include the authority to amend or overrule the text of the Single Convention. Even if an argument can be made that THC would be scheduled regardless of where it was found, this internal contradiction could undermine the Convention and should be avoided. • There may be unintended consequences associated with the scheduling change and domestic laws or regulations may need to be amended. For example, the 1971 Convention requires less frequent estimates and reporting of legitimate use by Member States than 1961 Convention. Understanding the full range of consequences will require significant time and effort. • The workload of domestic agencies reporting to the INCB will triple with respect to cannabis reporting. • The INCB has indicated it will require additional, unspecified, support from the UN Regular Budget to implement this recommendation.
Possible Solutions: • Ask the 1NCB to advise the Commission on difficulties encountered by States Parties reporting on cannabis under the 1961 Single Convention and THC under the 1971 Convention, and to recommend revised forms to be applied specifically to capture the totality of data required. The Commission could adopt these forms pursuant to Article 18 of the Single Convention and Article 16 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, authorizing the Commission to request that Parties provide information to the Secretariat; • Ask the INCB to convene an expert working group to examine ways to clarify and improve reporting mechanisms for ❑9-THC such as consolidating reporting for cannabis under one form, instead of separate forms for the 1961 and 1971 Conventions, similar to how forms are consolidated for opium reporting. • Invite Member States to voluntarily provide information on cannabis cultivation yearly, or at other more frequent intervals, instead of once every three years, through a resolution or other decisional text.

Recommendation 5.4

Decision Text: Delete “Extracts and Tinctures of Cannabis from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.
Issue(s) Identified; The WHO/ECDD has explained that the term “extracts and tinctures of cannabis” is outdated and duplicative of the term “preparations of cannabis,” which are already controlled under the 1971 and 1961 Conventions. Additionally, some preparations extracted from the cannabis plant have psychoactive properties and some do not. The WHOIECDD’s review emphasized that the variability in psychoactive properties is due principally to varying concentrations of THC, which is already scheduled under the 1971 Convention. Finally, the WHO/ECDD noted some preparations of cannabis have demonstrated therapeutic applications such as the authorized medicine Sativex.
Is this Problematic: The WHO/ECDD claims national regulatory agencies are confused by the extracts and tinctures terminology. The United States views the addition of extracts and tinctures as redundant with “preparations” and agree that eliminating the terminology would remove confusion concerning which regime controls in cases where a preparation that is also an extract or tincture has been moved to a different schedule than schedule I.
Pros to adopting WHO recommendation: • Confusion among national regulatory authorities may be reduced. • Adopting the recommendation would send a message that the CND is supportive of the WHO/ECDD’s findings.
Cons to adopting WHO recommendation: • Similar to recommendations 5.2.1 — 5.3.2, recommendation 5.4 is administrative in nature; no public health justification is apparent.
Possible Solutions: As no Member State has raised any concerns about this particular recommendation, it is difficult to contemplate alternatives to accepting, rejecting, or postponing consideration of the recommendation.

Recommendation 5.5

Decision Text: Add a footnote to Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to read: “Preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0.2 percent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol are not under international control.”
Issue(s) Identified: Advances in scientific knowledge have made clear that there are no “pure” preparations that can guarantee the absence of psychoactive components. Medicines, beauty products, natural remedies, and other compounds that are non-psychoactive in nature, but are derived from plants that have psychoactive components may contain residual trace amounts of psychoactive material that could also be considered an “impurity,” as compared to an active ingredient of such a preparation. Preparations of predominantly cannabidiol (CBD) are excellent examples of this conundrum. As CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, CBD products will normally contain residual trace amounts of THC. During the September 23 CND intersessional meeting, UNODC, INCB, and WHOIECDD provided vastly different explanations of how the international drug control treaties should be interpreted to address this issue.
Is this Problematic: The international drug control treaties do not provide detailed guidance about how to deal with impurities or residual trace amounts of internationally controlled substances in preparations that are otherwise non-psychoactive in nature. This is a gap that may need to be addressed, but when in doubt, the parties should be guided by the object and purpose of the treaty.
Pros to adopting WHO recommendation: • Selecting a specific numeric threshold amount for the residual substance provides clarity to Member States about how to domestically control preparations that contain such impurities.
Cons to adopting WHO recommendation: • At the September 23 CND intersessional meeting the WHO/ECDD clarified that the 0.2 percentage figure selected is calculated on a dry-weight basis. However, the text of the recommendation does not make this clear, and we previously understood from the WHO/ECDD that the 0.2 percent figure was calculated by weight by volume in a final preparation or solution. A technical correction or clarification will likely be necessary before CND Member States can accept the recommendation, since the WHO recommendation text is not clear as currently worded. • Many countries have already considered and developed policies to regulate CBD products and have chosen thresholds for allowable delta-9-THC content that are above or below the WHOIECDD’s recommended 0.2 percent. For example, Switzerland uses a one percent threshold, and the United States a 0.3 percent threshold on a dry-weight basis. Adopting the resolution may therefore be inconsistent with some Member States’ existing domestic laws and may be unacceptable to a portion of the CND membership on grounds.
• There are many other non-psychoactive components of the cannabis plant (perhaps as many as 200). Medical research is ongoing for some of these components, and as new products are developed, new footnotes may need to be added to cover these other components. This may, in effect, create an additional schedule for the 1961 Convention. The default assumption is and should be that non-psychoactive substances are not under international control. This footnote could turn this assumption on its head and create a cumbersome process of adding potentially endless footnotes to the schedules every time products are developed that mix psychoactive and non-psychoactive components.
Possible Solutions: It is not the responsibility of UNODC, INCB, or the WHO to interpret the international drug control treaties. States Parties instead have a primary duty to identify and address any gaps in the international drug control treaties with regard to trace residual amounts and impurities of internationally controlled substances in preparations that are otherwise non-psychoactive in nature. We note, however, that the treaties acknowledge the principle that the offenses referred to in the conventions “shall be defined, prosecuted and punished in conformity with the domestic law of the Party.” In our view, this preserves the right of each State Party to determine whether there will be a threshold, and if so, what that threshold should be, guided by the general intent to prevent diversion to illicit purposes. States Parties therefore may wish to develop a policy paper, resolution, or other decisional text for consideration by a future CND that provides general guidance to States Parties on how preparations that are non-psychoactive in nature, but contain residual trace amounts of psychoactive components, should be addressed. Some elements may include: • Statements recognizing that CBD, although it is derived from the cannabis plant, is not psychoactive, is already used for therapeutic purposes in several medicines, and there is no evidence of its abuse. Therefore, it is contrary to the purposes of the Convention to subject it to international control once CBD is no longer part of cannabis. • An acknowledgement that CBD should not be under international control, despite the fact that it contains residual trace amounts of THC; for example, by providing a definition of “pure” CBD, or by allowing Member States to determine what is considered pure. • General guidance about how CBD products should be produced in such a way that THC is not readily recoverable or recoverable only in yields that would not pose a risk to public health. Care should be taken to ensure flexibility for Member States to set reasonable THC thresholds that make sense in domestic contexts. • More generally, a recognition that the CND is the body empowered to make recommendations on all matters related to the aims of the conventions.

Recommendation 5.6

Decision Text: Add preparations containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol), produced either by chemical synthesis or as a preparation of cannabis, that are compounded as pharmaceutical preparations with one or more other ingredients and in such a way that delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol) cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention.
Issue(s) Identified: Several existing authorized medicines such as Marinol and Syndros contain a psychoactive compound (09-THC). The WHO/ECDD recognized that such preparations have formulations with decreased likelihood of abuse and lack evidence of actual abuse or ill effects that would justify either Schedule I of the 1961 Convention or Schedule II of the 1971 Convention. However, the WHO/ECDD believes that adding these preparations to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention would not impeded access to these medicines while assuring some warranted measure of control.
Is this Problematic: The WHO/ECDD review acknowledges that existing evidence concerning the use of medicines containing i9-THC indicates such medicines are not associated with problems of abuse and dependence and that they are not diverted for the purpose of non-medical use. Initially it was thought that this recommendation would not be undertaken unless the Commission decided to move THC from the 1971 Convention to the Single Convention, but when asked to clarify, the WHO/ECDD maintained that its recommendations were not linked. In our view, if THC is not moved to the 1961 Convention, there is no basis to consider moving preparations of THC into the 1961 Convention.
Pros to adopting WHO recommendation: • A Schedule III listing exempts preparations with low abuse liability from certain control measures, but still provides some protection.
Cons to adopting WHO recommendation: • A Schedule III listing imposes additional regulatory burdens on Member States. • Additionally, the recommendation refers to “pharmaceutical” preparations, which is not a defined term under the Single Convention. Introducing an undefined term into the schedules may lead to further confusion. Further, without agreement as to what constitutes a “pharmaceutical preparation,” almost any preparation, including butane hash oil, could be so construed.
Possible Solutions: Preparations in Schedule III must contain drugs scheduled elsewhere in the 1961 Convention. If the recommendation to reschedule delta-9-THC from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 is not accepted, this may obviate the need to vote on recommendation 5.6.

· Uruguay (4.III.2020)

March 4th, 2020: Uruguay aligned with the position contained in the statement of European Union member states and other countries [see EU position from March 4th, in the toggle “European Union” below].

· European Union Member States common position - Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden (4.III.2020)

EU

“We were ready to vote today about most of the WHO recommendations; we regret that the majority of countries was not. Therefore in order to provide the Member States concerned additional time to finalize their respective assessments based on facts and evidence we did not oppose the postponement of the vote at the Reconvened Session. We are ready to continue discussions. At that moment, we have to assume our responsibilities to preserve the credibility of the system of scheduling. We trust with your leadership and guidance; we will be ready to vote then.”

This position is supported, beyond European Union members, by: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine and Uruguay.

The United States of America also echoed the EU position in their statement.

 


 

Documents 5602/20 + ADD 1, 5575/20 CORDROGUE:

Current drug name(s) Current régime(s) of control Action recommended by the World Health Organization  Majority required Common position set by European Union Member States ahead of the vote
5.1 Cannabis & Cannabis resin

1961-IV

1961-I

Delete from 1961-IV More positive than negative YES

5.2.1

5.2.2

9-THC

Dronabinol (and its stereoisomers)

1971-II Add to 1961-I More positive than negative YES
Delete from 1971-II 35 positive votes

5.3.1

5.3.2

THC isomers

Isomers of Δ9-THC: Δ6a(10a)-THC, Δ6a(7)-THC, Δ7-THC, Δ8-THC, Δ10-THC, Δ9(11)-THC

1971-I Add to 1961-I More positive than negative YES
Delete from 1971-I 35 positive votes
5.4 Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis 1961-I Delete from 1961-I More positive than negative DELAY

Preparations of THC isomers

Preparations of ∆9-THC

1971-I

1971-II

5.5 Cannabidiol n/a Do not add No action DELAY

Extracts & tinctures of Cannabis

or Preparations of THC isomers

or Preparations of ∆9-THC

(only some)

1961-I Add footnote to Cannabis & Cannabis resin in 1961-I on preparations of cannabidiol with less 0.2% of ∆9-THC More positive than negative
5.6 1961-I

Add to 1961-III

(if compounded as pharmaceutical preparation in such a way that ∆9-THC cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health)

More positive than negative NO

1971-I

1971-II

Positions taken by countries not entitled to vote

Belarus

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Belarus communicated the following comments on the individual scheduling recommendations: (a) The Government stated that given that dronabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol were active ingredients of the narcotic drugs obtained from plants of the genus Cannabis (marijuana, hashish and hashish oil), it would be appropriate to add all isomers of dronabinol to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and to delete them from the schedules of the 1971 Convention in order to eliminate the inconsistency in the terminology used. However, it should be noted that an amendment of the national control regime of Belarus would become necessary, if the aforementioned substances were to be moved to the 1961 Convention; (b) The deletion of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention could reduce the scope for applying to them additional measures of control, currently in place in Belarus. The Government of Belarus noted that on the national level, cannabis and cannabis resin were regulated under the term marijuana, which had a substantially broader meaning that the term “cannabis” in the 1961 Convention. Furthermore, marijuana and hashish were listed as dangerous narcotic drugs not to be used for medical purposes; (c) The Government of Belarus considered it premature and inappropriate to delete extracts and tinctures of cannabis from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, because the deletion could lead to a substantial change in the control measure applicable to hashish oil in Belarus and because these preparations were not used for medical purposes; (d) The lifting of control measures of cannabidiol preparations that contain no more than 0.2 per cent of dronabinol and the addition of synthetic and natural preparations based on cannabis to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention would be at odds with the national control regime.

Gabon

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Gabon informed that the recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances had been brought to the attention of the Government.

Ireland

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Ireland submitted the following comments on the individual recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances, subject to the coordinated position of the European Union: (a) The Government of Ireland stated that it would have no objection to the deletion of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, as this would not have a significant impact on the activities of the regulators; (b) The Government did not have any objections regarding the transfer of dronabinol and isomers of THC from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 Convention. The transfer would mean a change in reporting requirements but would only mildly impact the internal processes; (c) From its consultations with external stakeholders, notably the cosmetics industry and those cultivating hemp, the Government of Ireland understood that there was a desire for more clarity on the legal status of extracts and tinctures of cannabis as well as the percentage of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol legally permitted in preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol. The Government of Ireland indicated that exempting preparations with less than 0.2 per cent THC from international control, might have an impact on the prosecution of cannabis-related offences. It was further noted that a number of countries already adopted 0.3 per cent has threshold.

Lebanon

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Lebanon stated no objection to preparations considered to be pure cannabidiol not exceeding 0.2 per cent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol not being under international control. It further indicated its support to the addition to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention of preparations produced either by chemical synthesis or as preparations of cannabis that are compounded as pharmaceutical preparations with one or more other ingredients and in such a way that delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol) cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield that would constitute a risk to public health.

Mauritius

March 2nd 2020: “we can all look forward to meaningful debates, discussions and outcomes during this 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs here, in Vienna, particularly with the expected recommendations, regarding the issue of Cannabis which will certainly impact and influence drug policies and legislations of national jurisdictions.”

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Mauritius commended the formal review conducted by the ECDD and stated that it was following closely the WHO recommendations and remained guided by the international treaties.

Romania

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Romania stated with regard to the addition of a footnote on cannabidiol preparations to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention that it had no objection to the use of medicinal preparations containing cannabidiol (such as Epidiolex) provided that the use complied with national and European regulations in force, regarding clinical testing, good manufacturing practices (GMP) and marketing authorization. Further, it noted that it did not support, nor encourage the consumption of preparations presented as foods / dietary supplements with properties beneficial to health, containing cannabidiol and THC in various concentrations, especially when not being controlled under the same conditions as medicines.The Government of Romania raised concerns regarding the addition of preparations containing dronabinol to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention, because as no maximum limit of concentration was provided, products with an indefinite concentration of delta-9- THC would be subject to the minimum control regime provided by Schedule III of the 1961 Convention.

Saudi Arabia

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Saudi Arabia stated that cannabis and cannabis resin should remain in Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention. It expressed its support for the recommendations to move dronabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol from the 1971 to the 1961 Convention, as this recommendation would give more restrictions to this active component. The Government of Saudi Arabia expressed its opposition to the deletion of extracts and tinctures from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention. Concerning the footnote on cannabidiol preparations, the Government indicated that it needed more and clear evidences about its safety. Due to the worries about the preparations, it would be good to keep it in the same convention. The Government of Saudi Arabia expressed support for the addition of preparations containing dronabinol to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention.

Singapore

March 2nd, 2020: “The drug problem continues to be a serious concern for the world. Everyday, lives are lost and destroyed, families are broken and communities are harmed because of drug abuse. We, the global community, must continue to work closely together to tackle this crisis. It is particularly important that the CND, as the UN body with prime responsibility for international drug control matters, remain united in this effort. In this regard, we would like to express our appreciation to the Chair for his tireless efforts to find a way forward on the recommendations from the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence on the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances.”

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Singapore recognized the wider ramifications of the scheduling recommendations on the international drug control regime. It stated that all six recommendations should be assessed as a whole, either put to a vote or deferred altogether for further study. The Government noted that it took into account two key considerations when examining the recommendations: the impact on public health and welfare, including the potential public signaling effect, and controls to limit access to narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances but permitting availability for legitimate scientific and medical use. Concerning the individual recommendations, the Government of Singapore stated that they could not be accepted and noted the following: (a) With regard to the deletion of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, the Government stated that the evidence on the efficacy of cannabis and cannabis-related substances for medical purposes was neither adequate nor robust enough to outweigh the incontrovertible evidence on their harms. Furthermore, there were no barriers to access to cannabis and cannabis resin for scientific and medical use in their current scheduling, and therefore no reason from this perspective for the recommendation. The recommendation would also lower the risk perception of cannabis use; (b) The Government of Singapore noted that the implications of transferring dronabinol and its stereoisomers from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 Convention on “preparations” of dronabinol and its stereoisomers remained unclear; (c) Concerning the transfer of tetrahydrocannabinol, the Government stated that tetrahydrocannabinol should be placed under the same Convention and Schedule as dronabinol and its stereoisomers, but it remained unclear for now which Convention and Schedule were most appropriate; (d) The Government of Singapore opposed the deletion of “extracts and tinctures” from the 1961 Convention, in order to maintain existing control measures on products which did not fall under “preparations”; (e) On the addition of a footnote on cannabidiol preparations, the Government of Singapore noted that there was a lack of supporting evidence as well as a lack of consideration given to the impact on public health and welfare. Further, it raised concerns with regard to the definition of “preparations” which covered all preparations whether for pharmaceutical or other purposes; (f) As there was no common understanding on “preparations containing dronabinol, produced either by chemical synthesis or as preparations of cannabis that are compounded as a pharmaceutical preparation with one or more other ingredients ” nor on “recovered by readily available means”, including dronabinol preparations in Schedule III of the 1961 Convention as recommended would create ambiguity about the controls that Member States were required to implement for THC preparations in general, and would result in their inadvertent loosening. Further, there was a lack of evidence to substantiate safety of liberalizing controls over a broader and undefined range of pharmaceutical products, and to substantiate the need of liberalization in order to facilitate access for medical and scientific purposes.

State of Palestine

February 20th, 2020: The Government of the State of Palestine stated that it could not endorse the recommendations, as the legalization of cannabis and cannabis-related substances was currently not a possibility in the State of Palestine.

Tajikistan

February 20th, 2020: The Government of Tajikistan expressed support to the recommendations to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, to transfer dronabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol from the 1971 Convention to the 1961 Convention and to add preparations containing dronabinol to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention. The Government objected the deletion of extracts and tinctures from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention in the light of seizures in States members of the Commonwealth of Independent States of hashish oil, a steamed extract of cannabis that was obtained using various solvents.

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTATION

E/CN.7/2020/14

Changes in the scope of control of substances: proposed scheduling recommendations by the World Health Organization on cannabis and cannabis-related substances.

Memo for the vote.

E/CN.7/2020/CRP.9

Changes in the scope of control of substances: proposed scheduling recommendations by the World Health Organization on cannabis and cannabis-related substances.

Countries comments.

E/CN.7/2020/CRP.4

Compilation of all questions and answers on the WHO recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances raised during the fourth and fifth intersessional meeting of the Commission at its sixty-second session.

WHO ECDD, 41st report

WHO ECDD, 40th report

WHO ECDD, 39th report