After increased interest from member countries on the use of cannabis for medical purposes, the ECDD undertook a review of Cannabidiol, a cannabis compound.

The committee in November found that in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm. Following the results, it recommended that compound should not be scheduled.

“As such, as CBD is not currently a scheduled substance in its own right (only as a component of cannabis extracts), current information does not justify a change in this scheduling position and does not justify scheduling of the substance,” WHO said.

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Although the CBD is not scheduled in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, its use for pharmaceutical purposes is included in the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

CBD has been the subject of scientific research. New England Journal of Medicine conducted the first large-scale clinical trial for CBD to test its effectiveness as medication for treatment-resistant epilepsy.

A number of countries including South Africa still have the compound scheduled, meaning that individuals need to get the compound from a person permitted by law to prescribe it.

The new review by WHO may lead to the change in the legal status of the compound, especially after the Committee found that individuals are not likely to abuse or create dependence on CBD.

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“Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC), for instance),” ECDD said in a press statement.

However, this only means that CBD is not under any strict international regulations, but the onus is on countries to determine the legal status within their own jurisdiction.

The ECDD further will undertake a review of cannabis and cannabis-related substances and provide a fuller review of cannabidiol to May 2018.