The United Nations (UN) said “cannabis rights” in a historic vote this week.
On Dec. 2, a United Nations commission voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It’s a list that classifies the world’s highly dangerous and addictive drugs, like cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.
And cannabis (marijuana, hemp or whatever you call it), for its part, was ultimately voted to be reclassified from the list, winning with a 27 to 25 count. The US, the United Kingdom and other European nations voted in favor of cannabis’ removal from the dangerous narcotics list. However, countries like China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia opposed its reclassification.
The plant has been used as medicine for thousands of years. We can actually trace its roots in Central and Southeast Asia as early as the third millennium. “The use of cannabis as a medicine has been traced back thousands of years, from a Chinese list of medicines in 15th century BC, to ancient Egypt and ancient Greece,” writes Vice News.
“The original decision [in 1961] to prohibit cannabis lacked scientific basis and was rooted in colonial prejudice and racism,” says executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium Anna Fordham. “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 criminalized and incarcerated across the globe.”
Unfortunately, experts believe this historic vote will not immediately affect laws against recreational marijuana use. As The New York Times highlights, “governments will still have jurisdiction over how to classify cannabis.” Don’t get your hopes up on smoking it up in our drug war-ridden country just yet.
2019 was a big year for cannabis rights when the House of Representatives green lit the “Philippine Medical Cannabis Compassionate Act” bill. However, the Dangerous Drugs Board says we no longer need the bill since they approved the usage of cannabidiol (CBD). “On the contrary, this will just show na hindi na kailangan ‘yong bill na ‘yan kasi they can have this medicine for compassionate use,” said DDB chair Catalino Cuy to CNN Philippines’ Newsroom in February.
(On the contrary, this will just show that they don’t need such a bill because they can have this medicine for compassionate use)
Stigma around marijuana still exists, regardless of other countries legalizing its medicinal and recreational use. The UN vote might not immediately change everyone’s mind about weed. But if anyone’s still optimistic, it might spark the change we’re all looking for.
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Photo by Avery Meeker