Investors who bought into marijuana stocks will have been on a high this week, seeing their investments rally significantly following a leaked document showing the World Health Organisation (WHO) softening its stance on the drug.
The leaked document, published and spread around by pro-cannabis groups, shows the WHO recommending that whole plant cannabis and its resin be removed from Schedule IV – the most restrictive category of a 1961 drug convention that governs international treaties.
Schedule IV is reserved for substances that are seen as particularly harmful with limited medical benefits.
If adopted, these recommendations would recognise changing attitudes toward the drug and its medical properties, potentially encouraging fence-sitting politicians to speed up the pace of legalisation.
They could also be a “catalyst for Big Pharma to further assess the global medical cannabis opportunity,” according to BMO analyst Tamy Chen, speaking to Bloomberg.
Investors trading in cannabis stocks, such as the Vancouver-based cannabis company Weekend Unlimited Inc, would have seen a massive 150% climb in their investments following the news breaking.
According to the leaked WHO document, it is recommended that on top of the rescheduling, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – the chemical compound that creates the ‘high’) and its isomers to be completely removed from a separate 1971 drug treaty and instead added to Schedule I of the 1961 convention.
Marijuana and cannabis resin would also remain in Schedule I of the 1961 treaty.
The WHO is also moving to clarify that CBD (cannabidiol) containing less than 0.2% THC is not under international control at all.
WHO says reschedule marijuana by on Scribd
The proposals will be placed before the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs, where its 53 member nations will have the chance to vote on them, likely in March, Bloomberg said.
“The treaty’s recommended cannabis rescheduling provides countries additional political cover to reexamine their current state on cannabis, given it serves as the regulatory framework for many,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, Kenneth Shea.
South Africa’s marijuana laws
The WHO’s repositioning of marijuana on an international scale follows a September 2018 Constitutional Court ruling in South Africa that made it legal for citizens to cultivate and consume marijuana for personal use in the privacy of their own homes.
In a unanimous judgement, the country’s highest court effectively decriminalised the private use of dagga, giving Parliament 24 months to amend the country’s drug laws.
The ruling upheld a March 2017 High Court judgement, which said that banning the personal use of dagga by adults in their homes was against the constitutional right to privacy.
In the Constitutional Court ruling, Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo did not specify the amount that can be used by adults in private use, saying that this needs to be determined by Parliament.
However, he has given Parliament 24 months to change the relevant sections of the Medicines Controls Act to bring it in line with the ruling. In the interim, adults can smoke dagga in the privacy of their own homes.
Dagga still can’t be smoked publicly and dealing is still illegal – and until new laws are put in place, Zondo said that police will have to use their better judgement and discretion when trying to police the matter.