It took time, but the World Health Organization (WHO) made history. Its primary role is to direct international health within the United Nations’ system – making a bold statement on the safety and efficacy of CBD as medicine reflects the rapidly changing attitudes towards CBD specifically and cannabis in general.
In a recent report, the WHO endorsed a conclusion from the agency’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) that cannabidiol (CBD) – the non-intoxicating component of the cannabis sativa plant – should not be scheduled as a controlled substance.
This endorsement comes on the heels of a recent review conducted by the ECDD at their 39th annual meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland. The committee meets to review a number of substances with potential for dependence, abuse, and harm to health. Based on their reviews, the ECDD will then update the WHO with recommendations on which substances should or shouldn’t be classified as scheduled substances.
Clinical Studies Prove CBD is Non-intoxicating
This year, the pre-review gave a brief explanation about CBD and how it works, but also explained its dependence and abuse potential, the nature and magnitude of public health problems related to the misuse and abuse of CBD, it’s possible therapeutic applications, the state of the legal and illegal production and sale of CBD, the current laws that govern CBD internationally, and other matters relevant for a recommendation on the scheduling of CBD.
In the first expert peer review on scheduling, the reviewer stated that there is no evidence that CBD as a substance is liable to similar abuse and similar ill-effects as substances such as cannabis and its main psychoactive ingredient, ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The reviewer concluded that the information presented in the pre-review report does not justify scheduling of CBD.
The World Health Organization released this statement:
“There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care. Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components.
To that end, the ECDD did an initial review of a cannabis compound called cannabidiol (CBD). Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC), for instance). The ECDD therefore concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol and postponed a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis related substances.”
In other words, they believe that countries should not be prohibited, at the international level, to produce and supply for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research, given that the WHO has not seen any evidence of potential for abuse or harm from CBD.
Understandably, this groundbreaking endorsement by the health agency has stunned the medical cannabis community (and CBD advocates) around the globe who have been extolling the phytocannabinoid’s superior medicinal qualities for years.
No doubt that this WHO statement will reverberate through governments and member states of the U.N. as legalization of cannabis continues to gain momentum globally.
A fuller review on CBD will be carried out next year. At that time, the WHO will make more specific recommendations and conclusions. Stay tuned.