MMJ Patients Form International Coalition at UN

Michael Krawitz, The Leaf Online

Patients in need of cannabis treatment from 13 different countries, including those represented by KOPAC from the Czech Republic, met at the “Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Policy, Research and Medical Practice” conference in Prague March 4-7, 2015 and established the International Medical Cannabis Patient Coalition (IMCPC).

The first action of the organization was to ratify a declaration to the United Nations calling for a change in its approach to medicinal cannabis. The declaration will be delivered to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna this week by Pavel Bem, Czech representative  and deputy for the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP).

The current U.N. scheduling of medicinal cannabis was decided in 1961 and did not consider the scientific and clinical evidence on medicinal properties of cannabis.  Medical cannabis treatments remain unavailable in most countries around the world. Citizens that are suffering from conditions where cannabis represents effective or the most effective treatment are facing the risk of criminal prosecution,
because their national administrations are guided by U.N. treaties.

The outdated policy is at odds with the mission of the U.N. and many of its policies concerning human rights, including the right for adequate health care in particular.

Cannabis is now considered an effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions including neurological conditions, neuropathic pain and nausea. The World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the current evidence on medicinal cannabis in 2014, and suggested that the United Nations should consider rescheduling the substance. Part of the revision is consideration of risks, as it is inappropriate that cannabis is currently subjected to the same level of control as opiates. While the WHO estimates opiate use and abuse yields an estimated 69,000 fatal overdoses annually, not a single case has been documented for cannabis.

Medicinal cannabis patients worldwide have been experiencing the negative outcomes of the discrepancy between the progress of medical science towards cannabis and the outdated international law. The
IMCPC unites national cannabis patient organizations to create a common voice for patients to address international bodies. The resolution is the first activity of the IMCPC.

Medical cannabis patient and advocate Steph Sherer, who is a founder of IMCPC and leads Americans for Safe Access, has pronounced the most immediate aims of the coalition: “International policies and the laws of our countries regulating medical cannabis should be based on science. Humans have known the medicinal effects of the cannabis plant for centuries, and scientific discoveries of the last three decades now affirm their experience.”

Current laws make it extremely difficult for many countries to create the programs required to meet the needs of their citizens. It is hypocritical for countries like the United States to continue to support the U.N.’s position on medical cannabis while allowing medical cannabis programs domestically.

The U.N. treaty system must be updated.  We, the patients, are asking the U.N. grant us the same rights promised to all humans.

The process of rescheduling can begin now if the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which meets in Vienna on the 9th – 13th March 2015, proposes it for the agenda of the upcoming U. N. General Assembly Special Session on Drugs for 2016. Several IMCPC members including Veterans For Medical
Cannabis Access will be carrying the IMCPC declaration from Prague to Vienna this week.

For more information and a copy of the resolution visit: