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UN Removes Cannabis from ‘Most Dangerous Drug’ Category

UN Removes Cannabis from ‘Most Dangerous Drug’ Category


United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from the ‘most dangerous drug’ category. The cannabis has been removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.


  • According to the WHO, cannabis is a generic term used to denote the several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa.
    • The major psychoactive constituent in cannabis is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • The Mexican name marijuana is frequently used in referring to cannabis leaves or other crude plant material in many countries.
  • Most species of cannabis are dioecious plants that can be identified as either male or female.
  • As per The WHO, cannabis is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked, and abused illicit drug in the world.


  • The 53-member CND has chosen to affirm a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation from 2019 to remove cannabis from its ‘most dangerous’ category.
  • In January 2019, the WHO made six recommendations related to the scheduling of cannabis in UN treaties.

India’s stand on Cannabis:

  • India was part of the voting majority, along with the US and most European nations whereas China, Pakistan, and Russia were among those who voted against.
  • In India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, illegalizes any mixture with or without any neutral material, of any of the two forms of cannabis i.e. charas and ganja, or any drink prepared from it.
  • India is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in 1990, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.

International Law on Cannabis:

  • The Vienna-based CND, founded in 1946, is the UN agency mandated to decide on the scope of control of substances by placing them in the schedules of global drug control conventions.
  • Cannabis has been on Schedule IV (the most dangerous category) of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs for as long as the international treaty has existed.
  • Currently, over 50 countries allow medicinal cannabis programs, and its recreational use has been legalized in Canada, Uruguay, and 15 US states.

1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs:

  • It is an international treaty to prohibit the production and supply of specific (nominally narcotic) drugs and of drugs with similar effects except under license for specific purposes.
  • Objective: To limit the possession, use, trade-in, distribution, import, export, manufacture, and production of drugs exclusively for medical and scientific purposes.
  • It combats drug trafficking through international cooperation to deter and discourage drug traffickers.

Source: Indian Express