The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has voted to remove cannabis (ganja) from a category of the world’s most dangerous narcotic.

India too voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from the list of dangerous drugs.

This decision will most likely change the way cannabis is regulated internationally.

“The CND decided to remove cannabis (ganja) 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 statement.

The development comes following a 2019 WHO recommendation that “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”.

Cannabis (ganja) had been subjected to the strictest control schedules for almost 59 years, which even discouraged its use for medical purposes, the UN said.

However, the Commission on Narcotics Drugs did not back other WHO recommendations, such as removing “extracts and tinctures of cannabis” from Schedule I, the UN statement said.

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With a historic vote of 27 in favour, 25 against, and one abstention, the CND has opened the door to recognizing the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the commonly-used but still largely illegal recreational drug.

Moreover, the decision could also drive additional scientific research into the plant’s long-heralded medicinal properties and act as catalyst for countries to legalize the drug for medicinal use.

Although, reclassification of cannabis by the UN agency is vital, it would not immediately change its status worldwide as many countries have their own regulations.

In India, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act – production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, and use of cannabis is a punishable offence.

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