The United Nations’ Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis and its derivatives as a less dangerous drug, making way for new research, the expansion of its medical use, and possibly its wider legalization.
“We hope that this will empower more countries to create frameworks which allow patients in need to get access to treatment,” says Dirk Heitepriem, a vice president at the Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth.
Throughout history, marijuana has been known and used for medicinal purposes, and the change in its classification reinforces the status. “This is a huge, historic victory for us, we couldn’t hope for more,” says Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, an independent researcher for drug policy.
Marijuana, which is now no longer in the category of dangerous and addictive opioids such as heroin, contains a non-intoxicating compound CBD that protects the nervous system and provides relief from seizures, pain, anxiety, and inflammation. It is estimated that the CBD industry will be worth $16 billion by 2025.