Cannabis: WHO Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the Convention on Psychotropic Substances

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Cannabis and cannabis-related substances which were the object of the critical review of the 41st ECDD meeting and of the six WHO recommendation from 24 January 2019 are currently controlled at international level under either the Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the Convention on Psychotropic Substances:

– “Cannabis and cannabis resin” are included in Schedule I of the Convention on
Narcotic Drugs. Moreover, “Cannabis and cannabis resin” are also included in
Schedule IV of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs containing substances that are
considered especially dangerous;

– Dronabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is included into Schedule II of the
Convention of Psychotropic Substances;

– Tetrahydrocannabinol (isomers of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is included in
Schedule I of the Convention of Psychotropic Substances;

– “Extracts and tinctures of cannabis” are included in Schedule I of the Convention
on Narcotic Drugs;

– “Cannabidiol preparations” are controlled under the entry “Extracts and tinctures
of cannabis” in Schedule I of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs;

– “Pharmaceutical preparations of cannabis and dronabinol” are controlled as
cannabis based preparations under Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or, as preparations using synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, under
Schedule II of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

According to the assessment of the WHO Expert Committee, tetrahydrocannabinol
(isomers of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which is placed in Schedule I of the
Convention on Psychotropic Substances, does not have abuse and ill effects similar to
those associated with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol but, due to the chemical similarity
of each of the six isomers to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, it is very difficult to
differentiate any of these six isomers from delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol using standard
methods of chemical analysis. Moreover, placing these six isomers under the same
Convention and in the same Schedule as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, i.e. Schedule I
of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs, would facilitate the implementation of
international control of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, as well as assist Member States
in the implementation of control measures at country level. Thus, the WHO
recommended that tetrahydrocannabinol (isomers of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is
added to Schedule I of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs subject to adoption of the
recommendation by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to add dronabinol and
its stereoisomers (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to Schedule I of the Convention on
Narcotic Drugs, and, if that recommendation is adoppted, to be deleted from Schedule I
of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

According to the assessment of the WHO Expert Committee, the variability in
psychoactive properties of extracts and tinctures of cannabis, as cited in the
Convention on Narcotic Drugs, is due principally to varying concentrations of delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol contained in these extracts and tinctures. Some extracts and
tinctures of cannabis without psychoactive properties and including predominantly
cannabidiol have promising therapeutic applications. The fact that diverse preparations
with a variable concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol are controlled within the
same entry “Extract and Tinctures” and the same schedule, is a challenge for
responsible authorities that implement control measures in the individual countries.
Moreover, the definition of preparations under the Convention on Narcotic Drugs may
cover all products that are ‘extracts and tinctures’ of cannabis as “preparations” of
cannabis and also, if the Committee`s recommendation to move dronabinol to
Schedule I of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs was followed, as “preparations” of
dronabinol and its stereoisomers. Thus, the WHO recommended that extracts and
tinctures should be deleted from Schedule I of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

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Manostaxx
Manostaxx – Industrial Management Consulting

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