In a historic vote, the United Nations has determined that cannabis will now officially be recognized as medicine.
Vice reports that the vote to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was won by a count of 27 to 25 votes, with the United States and United Kingdom voting in favor of the recognition. Those opposed included Russia, China, Nigeria, and Pakistan, among others.
The UN ultimately voted to remove cannabis from the list of drugs that are thought to have little medical benefits, as the plant has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. And although it will now be recognized as medicine, marijuana remains banned for non-medical use, per the UN.
“The original decision [in 1961] to prohibit cannabis lacked scientific basis and was rooted in colonial prejudice and racism,” said Anna Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium. “It disregarded the rights and traditions of communities that have been growing and using cannabis for medicinal, therapeutic, religious and cultural purposes for centuries, and has led to millions being criminalized and incarcerated across the globe.”
At the time of the passing vote, cannabis is part of medical programs in over 50 countries, while various states in the US, Canada, and Uruguay have legalized recreational marijuana. Still, however, the non-medical use of cannabis appears in the most restrictive Schedule 1, a category designated for the riskiest of drugs, which includes cocaine and fentanyl.
“There’s been progress today, but we are still dealing with a horribly outdated and broken system,” Steve Rolles of the UK’s Transform Drug Policy Foundation told Vice. “It isn’t based on evidence of risk, and is not addressing the political realities of the growing movement for reform. So there’s still an awful long way to go.”
You can learn more about the UN's ruling on cannabis by following here.