The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reopened a comment period for public input in preparation for the international discussion to reschedule marijuana  as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The deadline to submit comments is Sept. 30.

The nonbinding rescheduling recommendations made by the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence could have a significant impact on the global medical marijuana and hemp sectors if adopted by the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

Cannabis would remain a tightly controlled substance – allowed only for medical and scientific use – but it would no longer be included in Schedule 4, which is the category reserved for the most dangerous substances.

The FDA received comments on scheduling recommendations last March, though only for two weeks. That’s because there was a possibility the CND would vote on the WHO recommendations later that month in Vienna.

But the vote was postponed, so the FDA reopened the comment period.

Member states didn’t vote in March because several countries, including the United States, asked for more time to consider the recommendations.

If the new recommendations are adopted, nonmedical cannabis use would remain prohibited, according to the United Nations, but that hasn’t stopped Uruguay and Canada from moving forward with their recreational marijuana programs.

Mexico is also expected to legalize later in 2019, and New Zealand is holding a referendum in 2020.

A detailed analysis of the WHO recommendations can be found here.

“The Agency believes that an additional 30 days will allow adequate time for interested persons to submit comments,” the FDA noted in a statement.

It is expected, but not guaranteed, that member states of the CND will vote on the recommendations during the 63rd session in Vienna in March 2020.

Alfredo Pascual can be reached at [email protected]

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