The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) acknowledges the decision of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

With 27-member states voting in favor, 25 against, and one abstention, the resolution to reclassify cannabis was approved during the reconvened session of the CND.

Following this development and as signatory to the International Drug Control Convention, the DDB will have to review the resolution approved by the CND to determine the necessary actions to be made. This might include submission of proposed amendments of laws and policies to reflect the recommendations of the United Nations body.

The DDB shall wait for the official transmittal of the CND Resolution to determine what recommendations of the Technical Working Group from the World Health Organization (WHO) were adopted and study possible ramifications on our own policies.

Many countries refer to the UN conventions for policy guidance and implementation. However, the decision will have no immediate impact in terms of loosening international controls and other flexibilities because governments will still have jurisdiction over how to classify cannabis at the domestic level.

In terms of international control, what is apparently clear is that cannabis is no longer listed in Schedule IV or the category of dangerous drugs with no medicinal value. This is seen to pave the way for the conduct of more researches or studies on the medical use of cannabis.

Furthermore, if the WHO recommendations will be implemented, medical preparations with predominantly Cannabidiol (CBD) and with no more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) shall no longer be subject to international control.

The medical use of Cannabidiol has long been recognized by the DDB. Early this year, a regulation was passed allowing the use of medical products containing Cannabidiol with no more than 0.1% of THC.

Other components of cannabis used as medication are still regulated under Schedule 1 and will entail registration and approval including permits and licenses from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to be used in the country.

Amid these developments, the DDB would like to make it clear that the changes in the scope of international drug control for cannabis only involves its medical use. Cultivation and recreational use of the substance is still prohibited as its abuse brings negative health and social impacts. This is also reinforced under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Aact 9165.

The DDB shall continue to work with experts to support the effective implementation of international drug control treaties while strengthening measures to prevent diversion, recreational use, and abuse of cannabis and related substances.