Cross-border Trade and Rescheduling of Cannabis by the UN – Small Step or Giant Leap

Cross-border Trade and Rescheduling of Cannabis by the UN – Small Step or Giant Leap

The December 2020 meeting of the United National Commission on Narcotic Drugs resulted in the removal of cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Other drugs in Schedule IV include addictive opioids such as heroin, which the WHO recognizes as having no medically therapeutic properties. The removal of cannabis from Schedule IV, while not a tacit nod toward legalization, does open the door for the more widespread use of cannabis for medical purposes. Proponents of legalization argue that more acceptance for the use of medical cannabis can pave the way for full scale medical and recreational legalization.

The UN Commission’s decision, while for some a hopeful harbinger of progress, does bring up a variety of questions. What was the reasoning of those countries (27 in all) that voted for the measure? What drove the thought process for the 25 members that voted against the measure and how will their dissent impact the rescheduling as it moves forward? What does this rescheduling mean in practice?

The Commission’s decision will likely have some influence over the prospects for legalization in potential producer and market countries. As each country begins to grapple with the opportunities this decision allows them in their own cannabis regulation, there are bound to be ramification for international trade, import and export. This CLE will address the UN Commission’s decision and discuss the repercussions that decision will have on all UN member nations.

The speakers for this CLE will be John Walsh, Director of WOLA’s Drug Policy Program, and Dr. Jallal Toufiq, Director of the Moroccan Observatory on Drugs and Addictions. Mr. Walsh publishes regularly on various questions of drug policy reform and has testified before Congress on the subject of drug policies. Dr. Toufiq holds a medial degree in psychiatry and has participated in a wide variety of committees and commissions in the area of drug abuse.

The program will be moderated by Ambassador Menahem (Chuck) Kenafi.  Ambassador Kenafi is a former Israel ambassador who now handles mediation. His practice specializes in providing conflict resolution alternatives in the area of medical cannabis, specifically focusing on alternatives to litigation. 

As the international cannabis landscape continues to evolve, this CLE will help legal professionals in the field of cannabis business stay on top of the transformations in this ever-expanding area.