For anyone who’s experienced the reported health benefits of CBD, there’s no doubt that it has a therapeutic effect. Scientific evidence exists of the non-psychoactive compound’s ability to quell seizures in epilepsy, as well as other therapeutic actions such as reducing inflammation and pain. And yet internationally, there is no one official stand point.
But this could well change in November, when the World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Drug Dependence meets to review the risk of abuse and addiction of a number of psychoactive substances, amongst them CBD, with a view to making recommendations on the need for international control.
Process dictates that every member state must submit a questionnaire for each of the substances to be discussed, answering questions relating to its medical/ scientific use, its ‘misuse’ as a recreational drug, sources of non-medical consumption, any public health, social harm or dependence issues caused, and finally any deaths that have occurred.
From the information provided the WHO will make its recommendations on whether CBD and the other drugs discussed should be scheduled under the UN 1971 Psychotropic Convention.
United States Asks the Public About CBD
If you live in the United States, you will get the chance to personally inform the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) about your own experiences with CBD. Through the federal website Regulations.gov, members of the public are being encouraged to make comments relating to CBD’s medical use, side effects and risk of abuse, which will be incorporated into the questionnaire submitted to the WHO.
FDA Deputy Commissioner Anna K Abram describes CBD as having “been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy. In the United States, CBD-containing products are in human clinical testing in three therapeutic areas, but no such products are approved by FDA for marketing for medical purposes in the United States.”
Comments are accepted online or by post and can be submitted until the 13th September.
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What Happens if you Don’t Live in the United States?
The steps taken by the FDA appear to be unique in their interactive nature. If you reside in any of the other member states, it will be a matter of trusting that the appropriate expert advice will be sought and a fair report of CBD given.
What is the Likely Outcome for CBD and Cannabis?
Owing to the fact that CBD has been found to be neither addictive, toxic nor liable for abuse, it is thought unlikely that it will find itself unjustly scheduled. Even a Schedule IV status, which is normally applied to “substances whose liability to abuse constitutes a smaller but still significant risk to public health and which have a therapeutic usefulness from little to great,” would seem unduly harsh.
Also, potentially up for discussion in November’s meeting is the future scheduling of cannabis in general. While a full review will not happen this year, the plant’s possible inclusion in the 2018 40th Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Meeting will be addressed. The outcome will depend on the results of a recently conducted critical review which will evaluate whether sufficient scientific data exists to suggest cannabis should be rescheduled.
Why is this important? Right now, UN member states with a few exceptions follow the rulings set out in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971. As such, cannabis is considered a Schedule I substance “whose liability to abuse constitutes an especially serious risk to public health and which have very limited, if any, therapeutic usefulness.”
Any UN/ WHO rescheduling would need to be acted upon by member states, taking away the excuse used by many prohibition-bound governments that under international law cannabis is a dangerous drug with no therapeutic benefit.
But right now it’s the turn of CBD. So, if you live in the United States and want to make sure that the FDA portrays an accurate picture of CBD to the WHO, get writing.