The status of CBD under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

The status of CBD under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

On 25 August 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): Piernicola Pedicini, Eleonora Evi, Ignazio Corrao and Ivan Vilibor Sinčić of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“On 24 January 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended amending Schedule I of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in order to clarify that cannabidiol (CBD) is not a narcotic drug. This entailed firstly removing the references to ‘extracts and tinctures of cannabis’ from that schedule, and secondly inserting a footnote stating that ‘preparations containing predominantly CBD and not more than 0.2 % delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol are not under international control’.

On 12 December 2019, the Commission asked Member States not to put to vote the above recommendations, but rather to request further assessment by the WHO. The Commission states that only WHO recommendations ‘which would not result in a significant change in the control of these substances’ should be supported.

The Council adopted the Commission proposal.

1. What specific concerns have Member States and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) expressed in relation to the clarification of the legal status of CBD?

2. Is the Commission working on the legal and practical implications of a possible change?

3. Is it reconsidering its view on CBD in the new proposal for a Union position at the reconvened UN session in December 2020?”

On 2 February 2021, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The World Health Organisation presented on 27 January 2019 six recommendations concerning the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances under the International Drug Control Conventions. These recommendations were based on the critical reviews carried out by the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence to determine the most relevant level of international control for these substances.

The recommendation of the World Health Organisation regarding cannabidiol preparations did not provide for a clarification of their legal status but only for an exemption from international control for certain cannabidiol preparations.

On 16 October 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Union position for the reconvened 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Council adopted the Union position on 17 November 2020. The vote in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs took place on 2 December 2020.

Furthermore, following the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU in Case C-663/18, the Commission notes that cannabidiol is not to be considered as drug within the meaning of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as it does not have psychotropic effect.”


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