April 20, 2018 – The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws has filed a petition with the FDA calling for the international rescheduling of cannabis.
The World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence is reviewing the status of cannabis for the first time this year. The cannabis plant was orginally placed in UN Schedules I and IV when the International Single Convention Treaty was signed in 1964. Under the treaty, Schedule I is for medical drugs with a high liability for abuse or addiction, such as cocaine and opiates, while Schedule IV, or the “prohibition schedule” is for drugs deemed so dangerous as not to be usable in medicine, such as heroin.
NORML is recommending the deletion of cannabis from both Schedules IV and I, on the grounds that (1) cannabis has established medical use that is legally recognized in 30 US states and over 20 foreign countries; (2) cannabis has an unusually low addiction potential compared to other drugs, including legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco; (3) cannabis is far safer than other scheduled drugs, posing zero known risk of fatal overdose; and (4) adult social use of cannabis is legally allowed in a growing list of countries and US states.
Ultimately NORML believes that cannabis should be removed from the UN treaties entirely, like alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Doing so, however, requires changing the Single Convention Treaty, which currently mandates that it be regulated as a government monopoly like opium. Recognizing that the treaty is not up for review by WHO, NORML believes the most logical place for cannabis in the interim is Schedule II, which allows for non-prescription sales over the counter, or Schedule III, which is the least regulated category in the treaty, in the case of low-potency extracts and topicals with no abuse potential.