The United Nations (UN) has voted to reclassify cannabis as a less dangerous drug, reports The New York Times. The decision pertains to cannabis used for medicinal purposes.
Cannabis has been listed on Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs alongside drugs like heroin. The decision removes cannabis from this list.
The vote passed 27 to 25, with the U.S. and European nations among those in favor and China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia among those opposed.
The change will open the door to more medical cannabis research. Local governments will still decide how to regulate cannabis, but many governments look to bodies like the U.N. for guidance.
“This is a huge, historic victory for us; we couldn’t hope for more,” said Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, an independent researcher for drug policy who has closely monitored the vote and the position of member states.
The proposal was first presented in 2019, but because the decision was highly politicized, a final vote had been delayed.