The day of Wednesday, December 2, 2020, will be remembered as a historic day. The United Nations has voted to remove cannabis from the list of narcotic substances.
In fact, since 1961, with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, marijuana had been included in this list.
In recent years, however, it became clear that something was changing. With the progressive liberalization of consumption and the legalization of production and sale in many American states, public opinion has changed. Thus, scientific research on cannabinoids has had no obstacles whatsoever.
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The origins of cannabis
The relationship between man and the hemp plant dates back to the dawn of time. This shrub has been used for food purposes (the seeds are rich in fatty acids), for its fibres from which to make fabrics and ropes and for therapeutic and recreational purposes.
The first historical evidence of Cannabis Sativa, the most widespread variety in the subtropical belt, dates back to the third millennium B.C. Some documents of the emperor and father of traditional Chinese medicine Shen Nung, dated 2727 BC., register hemp in the country’s official pharmacopoeia.
The evolution of the use of cannabis
From the East, during Hellenism, the use of the herb reaches as far as Greece. Considered a medicinal and recreational plant by Greeks and Romans, cannabis is described by the poet Ovid and Galen. However, the most renowned physician of ancient Rome points out its benefits during meetings in society, thanks to its ability to cause fun and laughter.
After 1500 hemp cultivation reaches the Americas, where it is widely used for fibres. Then, in the postwar period, the Americans themselves, inventors of the social sciences and the sociology of deviance criminalizing the plant in its entirety.
In the 1930s, the “culture of progress” in American society needed to identify a series of enemies. For example, hemp, a plant with a thousand uses that produces exceptional biomass, is not liked by the large oilmen and landowners because it brings widespread wealth.
In 1937 Roosevelt issued the Marijuana Tax Act, which prohibits the production, trade, and consumption of cannabis. Those who use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes are labelled as ‘deviants’ or ‘criminals’. The mud machine is set in motion. The U.S. government authorities produce a series of commercials and documentaries made unscientific, with extreme bias.
The aim is to ban the plant. The Americans succeed because, from the United States, the culture of prohibition spreads quickly worldwide. But, looking back at them today, those pure propaganda videos make us smile in their falsity. Many Americans did not know that the infamous Marijuana and Cannabis (hemp in English), already used to relieve pain and treat some ailments, were the same thing.
W.H.O. AND U.N. take weed off the list of dangerous substances
And today, cannabis is recognized by the W.H.O. AND U.N. for its therapeutic value. A decision that paves the way for more significant investment in research and the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Attention was mainly focused on removing cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, where it was listed along with substances such as heroin and other dangerous opioids capable of causing severe addictions.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, based in Vienna and includes 53 Member States, considered many recommendations. The idea of the World Health Organization is to reclassify cannabis and its derivatives.
The proposal was approved following a tight vote, which saw 27 votes in favour, 25 against and one abstention. The United States and most European nations were among those who voted in favour, while China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia were strongly opposed.
WHO position on cannabis
In its recommendation to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the WHO committee noted that cannabis is not only good for you, it can have negative effects and cause addiction. But the WHO text emphasizes the benefits of medical cannabis in reducing pain and nausea and relieving the symptoms of medical conditions such as anorexia, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, and most importantly, unlike real drugs like opioids, cannabis use is not associated with any significant risk of death.
In its report, the WHO committee stated that “the addition of cannabis and cannabis resin to Schedule IV is inconsistent with the criteria for a narcotic substance to be included in that table. Scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of this substance and the benefits it entails are now evident and solid “.
Also Read: Medicinal Cannabis And Women’s Health
The impact of the decision: Cannabis is not a drug
This historic decision, which changes a more than fifty-year-old stance, will most likely strengthen medical research and legalization efforts around the world.
Experts say the vote will have no immediate impact on easing international controls, not least because many governments have yet to find legal solutions to classify cannabis.
Now the ball passes to the individual states, which will have to form their policies and any sanctions to be applied. However, many countries see global conventions as a real guide. So, in addition to representing a symbolic victory for proponents of drug policy change, W.H.O. AND U.N. recognition could bring a wave of contagious change. Once and for all, the negative and prohibitionist approach to marijuana could be broken.