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Hikurangi 'primed to move' after WHO recommends rescheduling cannabis

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Changes to the way cannabis is classified by the United Nations will open up new export opportunities according to a New Zealand industry leader.

Member states of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) have received the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence’s (ECDD) cannabis recommendations, according to a source that supplied a copy of the report to Hikurangi Cannabis Company.

Hikurangi Cannabis CEO Manu Caddie says the report recommendations would mean;

the controls on cannabis in the international drug conventions would be less restrictive;

products containing cannabidiol (CBD) but no more than 0.2% of the psychoactive THC would no longer be included in any international drug control conventions; and

pharmaceutical preparations containing THC, if they follow certain criteria, would be added to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention, recognising the unlikelihood of abuse.

The report recommendations are exciting and would have positive implications for the New Zealand cannabis industry said Mr Caddie speaking from Bangkok after meeting with companies interested in developing health products derived from cannabis grown by Hikurangi.

"It is pleasing to see the WHO review the evidence for cannabis and acknowledge that it never should have been classified in the same category as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines" said Mr Caddie.

"Unfortunately the classification of cannabis in the 1961 UN Convention resulted in prohibition as the default policy of most countries and some will resist change. Meanwhile the failed war on drugs is proven to cause real harm so New Zealand and other sensible countries are moving to a well-regulated regime focused on health and based on actual evidence."

Mr Caddie was at the UN in December when the ECDD was expected to release their report with the CND expected to consider rescheduling cannabis in March 2019 at its annual meeting of government ministers, but the delay in receiving the ECDD recommendations may push that consideration into 2020 to provide additional time for member states to review them.


Rescheduling cannabis

Cannabis is currently included in Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Substances in this Schedule are particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill-effects and have little or no therapeutic use such as fentanyl, heroin and other opioids that are considered especially dangerous.

The report says "Use of all these substances is associated with a significant risk of death, whereas cannabis use is not associated with such risk."

The report, based on more than two years of global experts reviewing all reliable research, goes on to say that the evidence presented to the Committee did not indicate that cannabis was particularly liable to produce ill-effects similar to the effects of the other substances in Schedule IV.

"In addition, preparations of cannabis have shown therapeutic potential for treatment of pain and other medical conditions such as epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. In line with the above, cannabis and cannabis resin should be scheduled at a level of control that will prevent harm caused by cannabis use and at the same time will not act as a barrier to access and to research and development of cannabis-related preparation for medical use."

CBD clarification

The Committee also recommended that a footnote be added 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."

THC medicines

The report also recommends that controls on THC medicines are relaxed because "the evidence concerning the use of these delta-9-THC containing medicines is that they are not associated with problems of abuse and dependence and they are not diverted for the purpose of non-medical use," and "in order not to impede access to these medicines," the Committee recommended not to include these medicines in the restrictive categories Schedule I of the 1961 or Schedule II of the 1971 Convention.

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