FAAAT international actions • 81 years of blackout on Cannabis scheduling

Actions D & E

Focus on the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.

Cannabis was scheduled as a “narcotic drug”, equivalent to opium or cocaine, after an obscure process in 1925 and 35. Since then, this scheduling has served as a basis for almost every national scheduling and rules regarding Cannabis.

Cannabis has never been reassessed ever since, even after the discovery of THC in 1964 or the dozens of clinical applications proven by then. Our team, in a joint effort with the key expert, veteran & activist Michael Krawitz from the US organization “Veterans for Cannabis Medical Access”, has been researching the issue, supporting the initiatives to bring consciousness about the outdated scheduling of Cannabis, and we are nowadays working on two major actions for a future change in the scope of Cannabis scheduling:

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Action D

November 2016

Research the Archives of Cannabis scheduling.

Never open before, many archives are hiding unmentionable secrets about the processes of 1925-35 that led to the scheduling of Cannabis as a drug with no medicinal values and with a high level of abuse and harms. We have been digging the archives of the UN, the League of Nations, the French National Archives, BNF and diplomatic archives, searching for the documents of the Paris-based International Public Hygiene committee, central Health department of the League of Nations on drugs issues. However, our research seem to point towards the destruction of many documents in 1947, although we know some copies of those precious reports have survived. We need to follow digging out, analyzing and revealing this hidden part of History.

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Action E

November 2016

Prepare the future of Cannabis rescheduling.

On the other side, after 81 years, the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) of WHO (World Health Organization), based in Geneva, will study again the case of “Cannabis and Cannabis resin”. It is the unique organ of the UN able to recommend for the descheduling of Cannabis, what the ECDD could be likely to do with a little help, and not only from the anti-cannabis lobbies that are already there. We need to provide the accurate information on ongoing medical researches, but also try to ensure that all data concerning the non-medical uses are presented and taken into account.

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Learn more about the issue.

Nowadays, Cannabis is still scheduled as asubstance liable to abuse and highly addictive, with particularly dangerous properties and little or no therapeutic values(Schedules I and IV of the 1961 Single Convention), just like heroin. Despite thediscovery of THC in the 1960’s, despite thediscovery of the endocannabinoid system in the 1990’s, despite the growing number of diseases for which Cannabis is scientifically proven to have an useful therapeutic effect, Cannabis has not had any critical review since the year 1935 !

The Critical Review is the official mechanism by which a committee of experts called for the special occasion, within the World Health Organization (WHO), revises all the existing data and knowledge about a narcotic drug. This Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) analyzes the information in order to establish the real potency, the assessed therapeutic effects, and the real health or social harms and risks that can be produced by each “narcotic” plant or substance. After making a Critical review, the ECDD delivers to the United Nations system and to the governments of the world a recommendation on the level of control to be applied.

In 1965, the ECDD (Expert Committee on Drug Dependance) made a pre-review that did not lead to any result.
In 1991, the ECDD recommended the descheduling of THC from the list of most harmful substances.

Today, the whole plant has to be descheduled from the tables I and IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the very international lock against any Cannabis policy reform at national level. But this have to be assessed by a Critical review by the ECDD, 81 years after the previous one.

We have been working on this topic for years, and today, our aim is to transform these preparatory reflexions into a concrete change, and to engage the WHO ECDD in a Critical review of Cannabis.

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CRITICALR

The Critical reviews comes naturally after our actions undertaken at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna (Austria) in preparation for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem (UNGASS). The final declaration of this UNGASS goes in the direction of a review of substances, recognizing that “the world drug problem […] demands a […] multidisciplinary […] scientific evidence-based and comprehensive approach” and “reaffirm[ing] the treaty-mandated roles of […] the World Health Organization”.

It is Time to advocate for a change of paradigm in the international drug control system starting with the long overdue Critical review of Cannabis !

The 3rd week of November, the Expert Committee on drug dependence (ECDD) of the World Health Organization will discuss the case of “Cannabis and Cannabis resin”. Mostly unknown by both public opinion and politics though, this ECDD is the unique and only organ able to make evolve the scheduling status of Cannabis at the international level, which serves basis for all the scheduling at a national level in the 185 countries that have signed the UN drug conventions.

If nowadays the urge for descheduling in the United Stated always meets a dead-end, it is because Marijuana policies at the Federal level are strongly framed by the United Nations Treaties obligations that define Cannabis as a “substance particularly liable to abuse and to provide ill effects” with “no or very few therapeutic effects” (schedules I and IV of the 1961 Single Convention on narcotic drugs). It is to believe that the descheduling of Cannabis at the United Nations level is a precondition for any change of schedules in any country of the world.

Started under the League of Nations with the strict control of opium trade that led to its global prohibition, then with the extension of the system to cocaine, the international framework of Treaties on narcotic drugs has since then been based on the will to schedule all the substances that may have “similar abuse and similar ill-effects”. On the basis of opium and cocaine, the list of plants and substances placed under “international control” (a control so strict that it appears to be an international prohibition) was later on stretched and in 1935, after a quite obscure process of assessment by a self-appointed Committee led by US, Egyptian and French hygienist doctors, Cannabis was included among those “dangerous drugs”. Since 1935, although Treaties and Conventions have changed, the place of Cannabis in the lists, schedules, and classifications that successively replaced one another did not changed: Cannabis has stayed on the podium of substances considered as the worst, and has never been reassessed ever since. Not even after the discovery of delta-9-THC in 1964, nor after dozens of clinical applications were evidenced.

The scientific committee that worked on the preparation of the 1961 Convention suggested that an in-depth reassessment of substances, and in particular Cannabis, had to be done — they were largely ignored. In 1965, the ancestor of the ECDD tried to review Cannabis, but could not finish the process. More recently, the ECDD has successively called for the beginning of the scientific review process that would lead to recommendation of change in the scheduling in its 2012, 2014 and 2015 meetings.

While it is obvious that for decades, almost every scientist has acknowledged the absurd basis of this scheduling, the total absence of political will have obstructed the process, to the point of almost making disappear the ECDD to avoid any chance of review. Committed for years to unlock this process and make Cannabis get out of those outdated schedules, the #ProCannabisTeam consortium will send 3 activists from France (Chanvre & Libertés-NORMLfr), Spain (FAAAT) and the USA (VCMA) to attend the next ECDD meeting in the Geneva HQ of World Health Organization, along with former members of the ECDD and international policy reform advocates. Our goals: underline the disastrous history of Cannabis in the international institutions and enlighten the obscure process held in 1935, whom details have been hidden and never revealed, and stress the importance of a future change in the scope of scheduling of Cannabis.

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IBAN: FR76 4255 9000 0341 0200 1701 161  

NAME: LES AMIS DE CSF

BANK: CREDIT COOPERATIF