If WHO Reschedules Cannabis, Will All the Illegal Countries Be Forced to Fall In Line? - RxLeaf
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If WHO Reschedules Cannabis, Will All the Illegal Countries Be Forced to Fall In Line?

Emily Robertson
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With WHO rumored to be changing the international status of cannabis in order to recognize its medical value, can countries like the US, still hold out on their illegal principles? Short answer: no.

Welcome to the Age of Cannabis in Canada! Legalization is here and we’re thrilled. While our pro-cannabis neighbours to the south may see this as a hopeful sign, skeptics of the nation are looking upon us with concern and protectiveness. Cannabis remains a federally scheduled drug with no medicinal value, just across the border.  As an added bit of pressure, there is the potential international rescheduling of cannabis by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. This is the campaign promise Trump may be forced to keep.

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Rescheduling by WHO’s ECDD

This starts with a rescheduling decision by WHO, which will convene for a summit in Geneva to decide whether or not it’s time for international law to recognize cannabis as having medical use. Right now, U.N. international treaties have scheduled cannabis in the equivalent of a Schedule I drug – meaning it is addictive and has no potential for medical benefit.

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With CBD broadly legalized in various nations in the U.N., it’s not a far cry to take the next step in international treaties. And after all, some small countries, like the Philippines, use the harsh U.N. scheduling of cannabis as a reason to continue strict anti-cannabis laws.

While larger countries that are part of the U.N. – like Canada – have been able to bypass these international treaties to legalize cannabis, a review of cannabis on an international front will take away other countries’ ability to maintain criminalization of cannabis. But before you get your hopes up about the poll, this national survey is more of a façade and preparation measure than anything else.

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If WHO decides to reschedule cannabis, then the American government needs to have a response prepared. A citizen poll will help them do that.

Cannabis advocates are skeptical that the nation’s opinion will do anything to change the private opinions of the main powers in the federal government, which unfortunately have hindered national cannabis progress. Kate Bell, of the Marijuana Policy Project in the U.S., told Rolling Stone: “We don’t know how much our comments will inform what they say to the WHO.” She explained it as more a formality than respect for the general national opinion.

Preparation for the Poll

Regardless of Attorney General Session’s negative outlook on cannabis, MPP is compiling as much evidence as they can on the benefits of cannabis. Hundreds of pages, representing decades of research may end up swaying the government in a positive direction, even if it’s fallen on deaf ears with this administration in the past. Kate Bell says that their main concern is to show that legalization has no, or minimal, public health risks, particularly on teenagers.

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So, Is Legalization on the Near Horizon?

While some political analysts predict that Trump could back bills to legalize cannabis on a federal level, this too must come with some skepticism.

First, general lightening of federal treatment of cannabis ‘crimes’ began under President Obama, who, for a variety of reasons, could not achieve federal legalization. Trump stepping forward to legalize is on much sturdier and more accepting ground.

Second, there’s no doubt that this is pre-campaign prep. If he is the one who finally reschedules cannabis, he may win over more votes than he would have otherwise given his controversial policies.

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Third, and this is most significant, President Trump is unpredictable. There’s no knowing when his plans will change, when he’ll follow through with promises, or just deny they’ve ever occurred. So, until there’s a bill in place, it’s tough to know if legalization is realistically on the docket.

That said, it is time to have some hope. Certain Republican leaders have suddenly flipped sides on the cannabis issue as they see support slipping away. For instance, Republican Californian Representative Dana Rohrabacker, has shown complete support with federal legalization of medical cannabis. He explained that Trump has also spoken in support of this, and post-medical legalization, it would be at each state’s discretion to legalize (or not) recreational cannabis.

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It’s tough to know if Rohrabacker is genuinely pushing for this, or if he’s trying to gain support leading up to an election that will likely see the loss of his seat. The latter theory seems the most likely as he told FoxBusiness, “I would expect after the election we will sit down and we’ll start hammering out something that is specific and real.” It’s a good cliff-hanger to encourage votes to help him keep his seat.

Either way, it may mean that reclassification is on the way! Here in Canada, we don’t have to worry too much about that anymore – except, of course, with border crossings. One thing can’t be denied: It’s an exciting time in the Age of Cannabis!

Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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