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Global Medical Cannabis Advocates Gear Up for UN Drug Policy Review

Amidst a landscape of shifting attitudes and policies surrounding cannabis, the upcoming United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) session holds particular significance for advocates and stakeholders worldwide. Scheduled from March 14–22, 2024, in Vienna, the 67th annual session of the CND serves as a pivotal moment for evaluating progress in international drug policy implementation and shaping future frameworks for drug control.

In a notable development, the IACM Patient Council, a prominent global medical cannabis advocacy group, will make its inaugural appearance at this year's CND session. Recognising the importance of engaging with decision-makers globally, the IACM sees this as a unique opportunity to influence discussions and policies at the highest level.

Established in 1946, the CND operates as a key policy-making body within the United Nations system, overseeing drug control issues on an international scale. While it lacks direct authority over individual member states, its decisions and recommendations often inform national drug policies worldwide. The 67th CND session will focus on conducting a mid-term review of existing international drug policy commitments and accelerating implementation efforts from 2024 to 2029. For advocates of cannabis reform, this presents a critical juncture to address persistent barriers posed by international treaties, which have hindered progress in cannabis legalisation and access to medical cannabis treatments.

Despite significant strides in cannabis reform, such as the recent advancements in Germany and the acknowledgement of its medical benefits by the US Food and Drug Administration, disparities in access persist among countries. Over 20 members of the European Union have legalised medical cannabis to varying degrees, yet challenges remain in harmonising policies and ensuring equitable access for patients.

During the CND session, members of the IACM Patient Council will actively participate in plenary sessions and forums, advocating for increased access and availability of medical cannabis. Key topics of discussion will include addressing biopiracy concerns, training sessions for CND participants and advocates, and exploring the transition of cannabis from palliative to primary care settings. In an interview with the Cannabis Review, Tom Curran, representing the IACM in Ireland, expressed optimism about the upcoming UN Drug Policy Review. He will be raising the important issue of inequity and inequality for medical cannabis patients and hopes to highlight the lack of access, affordability and illness' covered by various countries' medical cannabis programmes.

Representatives from various countries, including Greece, the USA, Canada, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Austria, will lend their voices to the discussion, emphasising the need for evidence-based policies that prioritise patient well-being and scientific research.

As the international community gathers to review and shape drug policy for the years ahead, the presence of cannabis advocates at the CND session underscores the growing momentum for reform and the urgency of addressing pressing issues in cannabis policy on a global scale.

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