World Health Organization: CBD Should Not Be a Scheduled Drug

Dec 14, 2017

WHO likes CBD? The World Health Organization does. The international body which is part of the UN says cannabidiol should not be a scheduled substance.

The non-psychoactive cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) does not get you high, but U.S. law treats it like a drug that does. CBD, which has no intoxicating effects but does provide relief for arthritis, chronic pain, and seizures, is still classified in the U.S. as a Schedule I drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

The millions of people worldwide who use CBD for medical purposes would argue with this assessment. And they’ve got a new ally in this debate. Westword reports that the United Nations’ World Health Organization has ruled that CBD should not be a scheduled drug.

The World Health Organization (WHO) decision comes as several countries debate the legality of CBD and its medical efficacy for pain relief has made the compound more popular.

“There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care,” the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence wrote in their medical ruling on CBD. “Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components.”

“ECDD did an initial review of a cannabis compound called cannabidiol (CBD),” the committee noted. “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions.”

“Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for instance). The ECDD therefore concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol.”

This is not the committee’s final decision. They postponed “a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis-related substances.”

Medical marijuana advocate Raul Elizalde spoke before the committee and recommended they not schedule the compound.  “CBD should never be a scheduled drug,”  Elizalde told Westword. “Everywhere around America is changing the way cannabis is regulated."

As mentioned, the US continues to classify CBD as a Schedule I drug.

"If CBD was scheduled as a drug, the only way CBD would have been available is as a pharmaceutical," Elizalde continued. "Drugs are scheduled for being psychoactive, addictive or damaging to people's health. [CBD] wouldn't be available to a lot of patients that it used to be available to around the world if scheduled."

The WHO committee based their ruling on an internal study on the medical benefits of CBD.

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” that study said. “CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials, with one pure CBD product (Epidiolex®) currently in Phase III trials. There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions.”

The committee acknowledged that CBD is under-regulated. “There is unsanctioned medical use of CBD based products with oils, supplements, gums, and high concentration extracts available online for the treatment of many ailments,” the study noted. “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”

In addition to ruling that CBD is indeed effective, the study concluded that there was no addiction risk involved with use of CBD.

“To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD,” the study pointed out. “While the number of studies is limited, the evidence from well-controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.”

Elizalde did concede that declassifying and unscheduling CBD does come with political and policy ramifications. "We should be very aware of international laws, because all of these treaties we've signed — the U.S., Mexico and so on — have to be protected," Elizalde explained.

Before you conclude that the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence is pro-drug, pro-narcotic organization, realize that their main piece of business in the session was recommending that synthetic opioid carfentanil be classified in the most restrictive way possible.

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