- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking the public’s input on medical marijuana in preparation for an upcoming meeting among World Health Organization members.

The FDA “is requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of five drug substances,” including cannabis and its compounds, according to a notice slated to be published Monday in the Federal Register.

The comments will be considered in preparing the Trump administration’s response to the WHO “regarding the abuse liability and diversion” of medical marijuana, according to a version of the notice added to the Federal Register’s website and first reported by Forbes on Friday.

“WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed,” the notice says.

The FDA’s request for comments comes on the heels of the agency receiving a notice from WHO leadership regarding a meeting of its Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) scheduled for early June in Geneva, according to the notice.

The ECDD “will convene in a special session to review cannabis and cannabis-related substances on their potential to cause dependence, abuse and harm to health, and potential therapeutic applications,” the FDA said.

WHO will subsequently make recommendations for controlling those substances and prevent them to the United Nation’s secretary general for consideration, according to the notice.

Specifically the WHO and FDA are seeking input on the cannabis plant, as well as cannabis extracts, cannabis tinctures and the plant’s principal cannabinoids – psychoactive compounds found in marijuana — including Cannabidiol (CBD), Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC stereoisomers.

Marijuana is banned in all forms under U.S. federal law and categorized as a Schedule 1 substance under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act. Twenty-nine states and D.C. have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, however, including nine where the plant has been legalized for recreational use.

The Department of Justice advised federal prosecutors during the Obama administration against pursuing marijuana cases in states with medical or recreational laws in place, but President Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded those protections in January, raising concerns regarding the future of their weed laws.

Countries that have passed federal laws legalizing medical marijuana include Australia, Canada, Germany, Mexico and Peru, among others.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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