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CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT

UNGASS 2016 OUTCOME DECLARATION AND THE CRITICAL REVIEW OF CANNABIS & CANNABIS RESIN

The public health dimension of the world drug problem has been widely debated during the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the world drug problem (UNGASS) held past April, and along the preparation process held in Vienna since 2014. We note with satisfaction that the outcome declaration adopted at this Special Session recommends a renewed, balanced and scientific evidence-based approach towards the international drug control regime, while reaffirming the treaty-mandated role of WHO. In this regard, we would like to underline that the declaration precisely calls for “informed and coordinated scheduling decisions”.

A deep concern is expressed in the declaration regarding the “low or non-existent” availability of internationally controlled drugs for medical purposes; as well, a “strong commitment to improving access” to those substances is made. In this respect, a more accurate scheduling appears to be one of the key issues towards a comprehensive availability of scheduled substances for medical purposes such as  for the relief of pain and suffering.

Recognizing that the evidentiary process under which Cannabis has been scheduled dates to 1935, and further recognizing that the financial difficulties of the WHO have compromised the functioning of its Expert Committee on Drug Dependence; we hereby suggest the Director-General to undertake the evaluation procedure for the critical review of Cannabis and Cannabis resin and ensure the accurate mobilisation of resources, and thus call upon all WHO member states to consider assuming the extra-budgetary implications of this important and needed assessment.