Today’s vote marks the recognition of the medicinal value of cannabis, an important step towards ending prohibition that was rooted in racism and colonialism from the start.
Rabat – Today, Morocco voted in favor of important UN rescheduling that could become a watershed moment in the path to end cannabis prohibition worldwide in the future. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) met in Vienna today to vote on several rescheduling recommendations on cannabis.
Morocco provided an important “yes” vote to remove cannabis from the UN’s Schedule IV category of drugs that have limited or no therapeutic use. The vote concluded with a 27-25 majority, meaning that without Morocco’s “yes” vote, the cannabis recommendation likely would not have passed.
Morocco was the only CND member in the MENA region to vote “yes” and was only one of two African states to do so. Algeria, Bahrain, and Egypt all voted against.
The crucial vote recognizes the therapeutic use of cannabis. It marks the removal of a previously impenetrable barrier that prevented a path towards legalization of the herbal substance millions worldwide use medicinally and recreationally.
The WHO’s scientific assessment had earlier established a similar verdict, but the political nature of the UN provided no guarantees that science would prevail. Yet enough countries shed the decades-old stigma around cannabis to vote in favor of recognizing the medicinal use of cannabis.
Today’s historic vote paves the way for future positive development regarding the decriminalization and eventual legalization of cannabis. The legalization of the cash crop could become a major economic boom for Morocco. Centuries of cultivation of the cannabis plant in Morocco makes it one of the prime candidates to build a flourishing industry based on the crop.
Morocco currently supplies 70% of the European cannabis market, as well as domestic demand, and could see significant benefits from producing and taxing its famous product.
Morocco’s role in the historic vote on cannabis is an important indicator of the country’s future intentions.
“Morocco’s vote today means that the country has joined the community of forward-looking states recognizing the historical error of denying the medical usefulness of cannabis,” the Transnational Institute’s (TNI) drug policy expert Tom Blickman told Morocco World News following the vote.
Rescheduling cannabis is not only economically important for Morocco and Africa as a whole, it is an important step towards “decolonizing” cannabis legislation, according to NGOs the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and TNI.
A press release by a coalition of drug policy NGOs stated that “prevailing racist and colonial attitudes” motivated the original classification of cannabis, instead of scientific reasons. Today’s vote therefore marks a historic change towards a common-sense opinion that cannabis is indeed less dangerous than heroin or cocaine and deserves a new approach.
According to IDPC’s director Ann Fordham, cannabis prohibition has “disregarded the rights and traditions of communities that have been growing and using cannabis for medicinal, therapeutic, religious, and cultural purposes for centuries.” The crackdown on cannabis, rooted in colonialism and racism, led to “millions being criminalized and incarcerated across the globe,” according to Fordham.
“Today, the international community moves a step forward with this small victory on medicinal cannabis,” TNI’s Martin Jelsma stated following the vote, adding, “but the decolonization and modernization of the UN drug treaty regime is only just beginning.”