UN reclassification of ganja doesn’t go far enough, says cannabis advocates

Despite the United Nations’ recent reclassification of ganja, removing it from the Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, some advocates say the move does not go far enough.

In a historic move on Wednesday (November 2) the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted 27-25 to remove ganja from a category of the world’s most dangerous drugs.

While the new classification is expected to impact the global medical cannabis industry, UN member nations still cannot fully legalise the substance; though Canada and Uruguay have legalised the sale and use of ganja for recreational purposes.

Marijuana, while no longer listed in Schedule IV, remains as part of a subset of those on Schedule I of the convention, which already requires the highest levels of control.

“We welcome the long-overdue recognition that cannabis is a medicine. However, this reform alone is far from adequate given that cannabis remains incorrectly scheduled at the international level. The original decision to prohibit cannabis lacked scientific basis and was rooted in colonial prejudice and racism,” said Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium.

“It disregarded the rights and traditions of communities that have been growing and using cannabis for medicinal, therapeutic, religious, and cultural purposes for centuries and has led to millions being criminalised and incarcerated across the globe. The review process has been a missed
opportunity to correct that historical error,” she added.

Similar sentiments were expressed by local cannabis advocate Vicki Hanson.

“We, the people of Jamaica and CARICOM’s Civil Society groups, remain very disappointed that the review of the International Drug Control Treaties didn’t go further in regards to the recognition of cultural and traditional rights to use certain plants, such as cannabis,” explained Hanson of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Cannabis Research

“It is our strong belief that the recognition of cultural rights is a critical element of any sustainable development approach in our region,” added Hanson.