UN removes cannabis from list of dangerous drugs, opening door for further research and legalization

A United Nations commission has finally decided that medicinal cannabis is less dangerous than risky narcotics such as heroin. The long-delayed decision paves the way for further research and strengthens legalization efforts.

The Vienna-based Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove marijuana for medical use from a category that includes many of the world’s most dangerous drugs, including highly addictive opioids.

The long-delayed decision reclassifies cannabis and its derivatives and it clears the way for further investigation of marijuana’s medical and research capabilities. The development is a symbolic win for marijuana advocates who argue that many countries’ policies around the drug are out of date.

Cannabis consultant Jessica Steinberg told the New York Times that while the legal marijuana market in Europe and the US is driving legalization policy, Wednesday’s UN vote could have its most lasting effect on countries in Asia and the Caribbean.

“Something like this does not mean that legalization is just going to happen around the world, [but] it could be a watershed moment,” she said.

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