In a landmark decision that is tipped to normalise the use of medicinal cannabis, the United Nations has voted to remove cannabis from being a Schedule IV drug, sending the ASX cannabis sector upward in a regulatory move that will encourage individual nations to follow suit.
The UN drugs treaty was first introduced in 1961 in whereby Schedule IV drugs were deemed ‘with no medical use and with high potential for abuse’. The classification coupled cannabis with the likes of heroin as the most dangerous and addictive drug but following the vote, cannabis will be reclassified in the treaty under Schedule I, the least restrictive classification.
While most countries around the world have their own laws relating to drugs of dependence, legislation commonly draws upon UN drug conventions and therefore these changes at the highest level should gradually cascade down once legislative processes are carried out.
In Australia, a similar re-classification was voted in favour of in September with legislative changes expected to be finalised in February when cannabidiol (CBD) will be classified as a Schedule III drug. This will enable Australians to purchase CBD products over the counter at a pharmacy without the need for a prescription.
As the world has become significantly more accepting of the medical benefits of cannabis over the past five years, the ASX’s cannabis sector has been quick to react with several leaders praising the UN’s decision.
“The UN ruling to declassify cannabis is a landmark decision and paves the way for the relaxing of cannabis drug classifications in large markets across the world,” said Boaz Wachtel who serves as CEO of Roots (ASX: ROO) and Chairman of Creso Pharma (ASX: CPH).
“The result of this vote follows 60 years of the status quo, three years of scientific review by the world’s leading health organisations, two years of diplomatic discussions and considerable lobbying from NGOs.”
Voting took place after the World Health Organisation presented the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs with independent scientific assessments from leading researchers regarding the medical value of cannabis before being passed by 53 member states.
“This is a major step forward for cannabis and industry participants more broadly as it paves the way for countries around the world to relax cannabis drug classifications,” said Jo Patterson, CEO of BOD Australia (ASX: BDA)
“Importantly, the decision followed three years of stringent scientific review from the world’s leading health organisations which outlined the massive potential that cannabis and CBD products have.”