A compound derived from marijuana has health benefits and should not be subject to government restrictions, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
“Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions and that it “is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids,” it added.
The decision was not an endorsement of medical marijuana.
Instead the global body’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence specifically examined the potential risks and benefits cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that is found in cannabis plant.
It is distinct from Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD does not have intoxicating effects — in other words, it does not produce a high.
Medical marijuana advocates point to that difference in arguing CBD should be available to patients who suffer from various ailments that include pain, anxiety and seizures.
But the US Drug Enforcement Administration treats CBD extracts as a Schedule 1 drug, like other marijuana products, meaning the American government deems it to have the highest potential for abuse and no medical benefits.
That position has drawn resistance from marijuana advocates at a time when CBD oils and other products are on shelves in dozens of states.
In a letter stating its opposition, the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws wrote that “CBD lacks the consciousness-altering properties and abuse potential” of THC and argued there was evidence of “numerous medically beneficial properties” for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, bipolar disorder and other conditions.