On Wednesday 2 December 2020, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Drugs in Schedule IV are discouraged for all purposes including medical use. In rescheduling, the UN recognises that cannabis carries fewer risks than other Schedule IV drugs such as heroin. The change also signals an acceptance of cannabis use for medical purposes, and follows recommendations made by the World Health Organisation in 2019.

Currently, more than 50 countries have legal forms of medical cannabis. The change in scheduling is expected to increase research into medical cannabis.

Read the news report from the UN, analysis from Drug Science and from Transform.

Medical cannabis in the UK 

Back in 2019, the opening session of the SSA’s annual conference, chaired by Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, was a debate on medicinal cannabis in the UK. In this video, some of the complexities of researching and prescribing medical cannabis in the UK are discussed by Dr Bowden Jones and panellists Dr Amir Englund, Dr Suzi Gage and Professor Steve Pilling.

The debate was also captured by a live scribe:


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