"Cannabis will no longer be classified as a drug as dangerous as heroin."
UN decides cannabis not a dangerous narcotic,
The decision taken by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on Wednesday at its ongoing 63rd session will lead to changes in the way cannabis is regulated internationally.
“The CND zeroed-in on the decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — where it was listed alongside deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin,” the UN said in a news release on December 2.
Nearly 60 years after wrongly categorizing cannabis, the UN finally corrected its error—although there are still miles to go in terms of the CND accurately characterizing cannabis.
Drugs in Schedule IV are a subset of those in Schedule I, which imposes the highest levels of international control. That kept cannabis in the same class of drugs as heroin.
The CND’s schedules can be a little confusing, because Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous and addictive—as are Schedule I drugs as defined within the United States’ Controlled Substances Act. Cocaine, opium, morphine, and fentanyl are on the CND’s Schedule I list. In the CND classification system, though, Schedule IV is actually a subset of Schedule I drugs—they are considered the most dangerous Schedule I drugs.
As crazy as it sounds, cannabis and heroin have both been classified as Schedule IV drugs for decades, which means the CND and the UN considered cannabis more dangerous than morphine and fentanyl.
India has voted with the majority at the United Nations to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from the list of most dangerous substances in the flagship international Convention on narcotic drugs.
Currently, Under India’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, the production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, and use of cannabis is a punishable offence.
Charas, defined as “the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant”, is also covered by the NDPS Act.
Twenty-seven of the CND’s 53 Member States — including India, the United States and most European nations — voted “Yes” on the motion to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention.
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