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India votes to remove cannabis from 'most dangerous drugs' list in UN

Total 27 member states, including India, the US and EU countries, supported the vote, while 25 nations including China, Pakistan and Russia voted "no"

In a historic vote, the United Nations passed a resolution to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from the category of 'most dangerous substances' and India has supported the move by voting in favour of the proposal. The vote, which was held during the UN's flagship international convention on narcotics drugs on Wednesday, got a go-ahead after the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) decided to take it up following a series of recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"The CND zeroed-in on the decision to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs -- where it was listed alongside deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin," a UN news release said.

The UN statement added that cannabis has been subjected to "strictest control schedules" for over 59 years, which discouraged research around its usage. Total 27 member states, including India, the US and EU countries, supported the vote, while 25 nations including China, Pakistan and Russia voted "no". One nation - Ukraine -- was absent during the voting process.

The UN report said the CND will open the door for recognising the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the commonly-used but illegal cannabis. Notably, cannabis or marijuana is a banned drug under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, in India. Its production, manufacturer, possession to a certain limit, and sale is a punishable offence.

The UN's landmark vote followed after a series of recommendations from the WHO on the removal of cannabis and its resin from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on the Narcotic Drugs, 1961. After the vote now, these two drugs have been categorised under Schedule 1 list and are classified as "least dangerous" substances.

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