The World Health Organization will review the impacts of rescheduling around cannabidiol and some synthetic pot ingredients in Geneva this fall.
The Food and Drug Administration has put out the call for folks to submit their input on the “abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of 17 substances including CBD. Also included are the synthetic cannabis ingredients 5F-ADB, 5F-PB-22, AB-CHMINACA, AB-PINACA and UR-144, many of which are already banned in some countries.
The United States is a signer of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which says if a party to the convention or WHO has information about a substance they believe requires international controls for public health and safety (or change in such control), they will notify the secretary-general of the United Nations and provide information in support of their opinion.
That gets them onto the list we’ll see get reviewed this fall.
When the WHO lets the U.S. know it has information that may justify adding a drug or other substances to one of the schedules of the Psychotropic Convention, transferring a drug or substance from one schedule to another or deleting it from the schedule, they tell the secretary of state, who in turn tells the secretary of Health and Human Services.
HHS is the one actually putting out the call for input via the FDA. They’ll review everything they get through Sept. 17, then bring their opinions on the various substances with them to Geneva for further discussion with the WHO.
The mystery of what will be in the opinion on CBD has activist, like longtime cannabis researcher and International Cannabis Farmers Association board member, Dr. Amanda Reiman, guessing and presuming the worst.
“I wish I were more confident that this is a sign of the federal government finally coming around to the medicinal value of cannabis,” Reiman said, adding she is glad that they are having this conversation but that she is “fearful that this is happening because they have figured out how to pharmaceuticalize CBD and are looking for a way to move it from the illicit market into a pharmaceutical one. That being said, everyone should have access to CBD, whether it is in a pill or in the plant.”
NORML deputy director Paul Armentano hopes the nation’s recommendation to the committee will be based on scientific evidence, but isn’t holding his breath on the subject.
“Given the longstanding politicization of the cannabis plant, it would hardly be surprising to see those involved in this decision maintain their ‘flat Earth’ position as it pertains to the safety and efficacy of cannabis and organic cannabinoids,” he said.
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project had a slightly more optimistic take.
“My guess will be they recommend to keep it status quo unless there is a lot of pressure from a research contingent,” Fox said. “I certainly hope that is the case.”
Two of the fake pot ingredients to be reviewed have already faced a ton of scrutiny both abroad and in the U.S., where a temporary scheduling order was issued making them Schedule I narcotics. The first, 5F-ADB, was first identified in November 2014 during a post-mortem chemical analysis on someone who died using one of the “spice” or “K2” brands that contained it.
In Japan, 5F-ADB was found in autopsies of 10 people who died from unexplained drug overdoses in late 2014. Japan quickly criminalized the compound, which is believed to be more potent than many of its fake pot predecessors due to the extremely low levels found in the dead people.
The other already banned stateside is 5F–APINACA. According to a 2014 report in Forensic Toxicology, this synthetic cannabinoid was discovered in South Korea. It is already banned in China, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The non-cannabinoid substances under review this fall include various forms of fentanyl and ketamine.
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