As cannabis and CBD await UN review, FDA invites public to weigh in

As the cannabis plant awaits a high-stakes review from international health authorities, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is inviting the public to weigh in on whether cannabis, CBD and other cannabis extracts should declassified as a controlled substance.

The UN’s World Health Organization made a preliminary announcement in December that CBD has a low potential for abuse and shouldn’t be scheduled as a controlled substance.

The health agency delayed the final decision until June, when the agency will review “cannabis and cannabis resin, extracts, and tinctures of cannabis.”

As a member of the UN, the United States will forward the public comments it receives on cannabis scheduling to the agency.

Recommendations from the Geneva-based WHO don’t carry the force of law, but they are important guideposts for health authorities worldwide.

The agency’s evaluation of new drug therapies carries big consequences for drug makers and patients.

The FDA says in its request for public comment that its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, isn’t planning to make any recommendations about cannabis for this summer’s review.

“HHS will not now make any recommendations to WHO regarding whether any of these drugs should be subjected to international controls,” the agency said in its request for public comment Monday. “Instead, HHS will defer such consideration until WHO has made official recommendations to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which are expected to be made in mid-2018.”

Comments are due April 23.

The WHO calls cannabis “the most commonly used psychoactive substance under international control” and has been a scheduled substance since 1961, when it was listed in the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.