FDA Welcomes Public Comments on Marijuana

Marijuana is considered a dangerous drug under international treaties, a stance that needs updating as legalization goes global.


3 min read

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If you’re a green entrepreneur, chances are you have strong opinions on how marijuana should be classified under law. Now, you have a chance to make that opinion known, at least when it comes to international law.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened a small window of opportunity in the month of October for citizens to comment on whether marijuana should be reclassified under global treaties that the United States participates in. Comment can be made through the federal government site that allows for citizen comments on public policy issues. In this case, the issue is “international drug rescheduling,” which includes “cannabis plant and resin,” according to the FDA.

Comments were accepted through Oct. 31.

Related: What Will Happen if the U.S. Legalizes Pot Like Canada? A Mind-Boggling Economic Boon, That’s What.

International Cannabis Law

The FDA is seeking public comments ahead of its report to the World Health Organization (WHO) on whether international restrictions should be placed on a variety of drugs, including cannabis. The U.S. report to WHO will address “the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs.”

In the U.S., marijuana currently is considered a Schedule I illegal drug, placing it among drugs such as heroin and cocaine. A Schedule I listing means the federal government regards a drug as having no medical use and a high probability of abuse by users.

More than half the U.S. states have passed legalization for either medical or adult-use marijuana that runs contrary to the federal government position. Internationally, both Canada and Uruguay have now legalized marijuana nationwide, while the Supreme Court of Mexico has ruled prohibition of marijuana use by adults is unconstitutional, opening the way for legalization there.

U.S. officials are making comments regarding marijuana and other drugs so that their opinions can be considered along with those from other nations by the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, which will meet in November in Geneva. The committee will review psychoactive substances on their “potential to cause dependence, abuse and harm to health,” according to the FDA.

That committee is charged with making recommendations to the United Nations secretary-general on the need for international control of these substances.

Related: Facebook and Google Are Not So High On Cannabis

Canada and Uruguay Blaze New Trail

Much like in the U.S., where voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, among other states, have made their own decision on the legalization of marijuana, both Canada and Uruguay have legalized adult-use marijuana nationwide. No directive from the U.N. is likely to change that fact.

Mexico also has legalized medical marijuana nationwide. Columbia has done the same. In both countries, part of the argument for legalization rested on the idea that a legal, regulated market could cripple the drug cartels that operate in those countries. Chile and Iceland also are considering legalization.

Related: Italy Accidentally Legalized Pot and Now the Mafia Is Losing Big Money

WHO already has acknowledged the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Information on the WHO website lists benefits including effectiveness in lessening nausea and vomiting for those in the advanced stages of cancer and AIDS. Other conditions WHO lists as treatable by marijuana include asthma and glaucoma.

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