Patient Advocates Bring Medical Cannabis Issues to United Nations UN Holds Stakeholder Meetings for Upcoming UN Special Session on Drug Policy

February 10, 2016 | Talana Lattimer

(New York, NY) – Today Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Steph Sherer, and Michael Krawitz, Executive Director, Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access will join organizations from across the globe at at the UN Headquarters to continue preparations for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016) on drug policy to be held April 19th-21st    They will be providing input for Member States in the negotiations of the outcome document to be presented at UNGASS 2016 and will be urging that global policies on medical cannabis be included.

The last time the UN held a special session was in 1999, and its focus, guided by the US, was to eliminate illegal drugs and drug trafficking. Today, international leaders, drug policy reform groups, patients, and citizens are encouraging the UN to reform this outdated and ineffective approach to drug policy.  On  the agenda for UNGASS 2016 is a review of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

Cannabis is currently scheduled in Schedules I and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol (the “Single Convention”). This scheduling was created based on a report created by the Health Committee of the League of Nations in 1935. Today, Canada, Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Croatia, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Romania, Germany, Jamaica, Australia, Italy, Columbia, Switzerland and over two-thirds of the population of the United States and its territories live in regions with medical cannabis laws.

“The current international policies on cannabis are outdated and are having a detrimental impact on patients in the United States and worldwide,” said Sherer. “New policies should take into account new clinical research, product safety protocols for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution, and global patient needs.”  

The UN Single Convention treaty has been used by governments across the globe, including the United States, to derail attempts to reform national medical cannabis laws and research.  At the “Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Policy, Research and Medical Practice” conference in Prague March 4-7, 2015, representatives of organizations of medical cannabis patients from 13 countries met and established the International Medical Cannabis Patient Coalition (IMCPC), and put together a Declaration addressing UNGASS 2016. Sherer and Krawitz will relay the call for action outlined by the  Declaration which calls for the UN to take a series of actions, including rescheduling cannabis.

Further Information:


International Medical Cannabis Patient Coalition (IMCPC)’s UNGASS 2016 Declaration delivered to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna March 2015.

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