Published: March 15th, 2018
The World Health Organization - WHO - is a member of the United Nations Developments Group. Its mission statement is to promote the advancement of public health, food security, healthy diet, occupational health, reduction of substance abuse, and setting new standards for the development and reporting of scientific findings, publishing, and networking.
Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1948, it has played a major role in eradicating smallpox and mitigating other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria, and tuberculosis.
As of 2016, the WHO counts a total of 194 member states, making for almost the entire planet. Only Liechtenstein remains excluded, though it is often represented by Switzerland.
It is likely that CBD products may start to be prescribed in the not so distant future!
In December 2017, the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization released a 27-page pre-review report on cannabidiol - CBD.
In this preliminary report, the Committee makes a case for the complete lift on the current classification of CBD, in its pure form, as a controlled substance. They make it clear how CBD has been unquestionably proven to have medical potential. While not yet recommending CBD as a medical treatment, they do recognise the mounting empirical and theoretical evidence.
They declared “…The range of conditions for which CBD has been assessed is diverse, consistent with its neuroprotective, antiepileptic, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic, and antitumor properties”.
Much has yet to be established in regard to its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic efficacy and efficiency, but the principal argument in defence of the restriction lift is paired with a complete lack of evidence of public health harm, recreational and substance abuse potential, and negative side effects.
In June 2018, the Committee will release a comprehensive report where they will look deeper and more specifically into the diverse forms in which CBD is produced and administered.
Could this report become the first international guideline for standard medical CBD use?
More and more countries are easing their regulations regarding CBD products. Leading the pack are the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Switzerland. Hopefully, the June 2018 comprehensive report by the WHO will pave the way for total reform.
Here is a list of countries where CBD products are currently not controlled by the authorities. Please be mindful that laws do change, so double check on your local status.
Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Northern Ireland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, U.S., Virgin Islands and Uruguay.
CBD is non-psychoactive and widely regarded as safe to use. But CBD is one of many cannabinoids present in cannabis. Cannabis is illegal primarily because of the psychoactive component of decarboxylated THCA - tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. It is the cannabis plant and its derivatives that are controlled by the authorities, not specifically CBD.
It is THC that is responsible for the recreational use of cannabis and the potential for substance abuse. While THC also shows great medical potential, anything containing THC above a certain level may be in violation depending on jurisdiction.
Hemp is technically cannabis, only with trace amounts of THC, and legal to produce for the fibre and cellulose industries.
The problem is that professional and laboratory-grade commercial extracts where THC is removed completely are something relatively novel to our world. The vast majority of jurisdictions are simply not prepared for this new thing and do not have specific clauses in regard to these non-psychoactive tinctures, oils, topical creams, e-liquids, and edibles.
To start, this very report by the World Health Organization. It represents a paradigm shift in regard to the legitimacy of both anecdotal and peer-reviewed literature.
For those not from a scientific background, here is how it works in a nutshell. For a scientific finding or theory to be recognised and accepted, a study needs to be conducted and published in peer-reviewed journals. Top-of-the-field experts judge the quality of the methodology employed in these articles, as well as the rigour of the mathematical and statistical models applied. Once past this quality control checkpoint, the study is published for the rest of the scientific community to read. But a study is only considered proven once someone else replicates the experiment using the exact same methodology and achieving the exact same results. Once that happens, it is no longer considered a theory, but graduates to a scientific fact. Science is all about replicable results.
These peer-reviewed journals and publications are usually kept under the private scrutiny of universities, hospitals, laboratories, and research centres. The most advanced and state-of-the-art findings are usually not of free access. But as time and knowledge amounts, and more papers are published, more and more studies will be made available to the general population.
Google has a fantastic free tool that does the job of aggregating searches for you. If you head over to https://scholar.google.com, you are free to explore what is currently available - both for free and at cost.
For example, type in “CBD” and “epilepsy”. In the left column, select “Since 2018” and you will be presented with the most recent findings. At the time of writing, there are 43 articles specific to this topic published in the first month of 2018 alone!
On the 3rd of January, 2018, an article titled Cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in the Dravet syndrome was published in The Journal of Pediatrics And Child Health. To summarize the findings “…the reduction in seizures is clinically relevant…”.
On the 10th on January 2018, an article was published in The Pharmaceutical Journal under the name Cannabis for epilepsy: is there enough evidence of efficacy?
It is quite clear the evidence is undeniable and mounting. Hopefully, 2018 marks the year where CBD is reassessed, and legislators redefine its scheduling. It is still very difficult to conduct science with CBD because it is technically illegal in numerous regions - so universities and research ethics committees do not allow it for fear of reprisal.
CBD is now in a grey area where morality and the rule of law are clashing. Reform on the current view of CBD is urgent.