Four U.S. states including New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona have voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana which brings the total number of states which have legalized recreational cannabis use to 15 following last month’s elections.
According to the Pew Research Center, 91% of Americans said they supported the legalization of marijuana, either for both medical and recreational use or solely for medical use.
A recommendation from the World Health Organization, the United Nations’ Commission for Narcotic Drugs on Wednesday indicates that cannabis to be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 single convention on Narcotic Drugs, a decision that is expected to eventually have a far-reaching impact on marijuana research and medical use throughout the world.
Prior to Wednesday’s vote, cannabis and cannabis resin had been listed alongside drugs such as heroin, methadone, morphine, opium and cocaine.
The UN Commission for Narcotic Drugs includes 53 member states, and the vote on marijuana reclassification was very close, passing by a 27 to 25 margin (with an abstention from Ukraine).
The United States and the vast majority of European nations voted in favor. China, Pakistan and Russia were among the countries that were opposed to the reclassification.
The market for medical and recreational marijuana is projected to increase to more than $34 billion by 2025, according analysts at the investment bank Cowen.
Experts say that the vote will have no immediate impact on loosening international controls because governments will still have jurisdiction over how to classify cannabis.
But many countries look to global conventions for guidance, and United Nations recognition is a symbolic win for advocates of drug policy change who say that international law is out of date.
Marijuana for medical use has exploded in recent years and products containing cannabis derivatives like cannabidiol or CBD.
Some research has suggested that CBD can protect the nervous system and provide relief from seizures, pain, anxiety and inflammation.
While the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2015 legalised cultivation, production and exportation of medical marijuana and mandated the Health minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana, the absence of guidelines prevented the industry from taking off.
Although cannabis in Uganda is illegal, law enforcement is poor. The export of cannabis for medicinal purposes was approved by the Ugandan Ministry of Health in January 2020, which stipulated among other things that all cannabis exporters had to have a minimum capital of 18.3 million Ugandan shillings or US$5 million.