The UN has removed cannabis from the list of the most dangerous drugs in a move that acknowledges the medical benefits of the plant and that can be followed by less restrictive measures.
Morocco, one of the main sources of cannabis in the world, was the only country in the MENA region that voted in favor.
The vote came after a recommendation from the World Health Organization on Wednesday to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from its Schedule IV classification under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
The vote will have no immediate impact on loosening international controls because governments will still have jurisdiction over how to classify cannabis. But many countries look to global conventions for guidance, and United Nations recognition is a symbolic win for advocates of drug policy change who say that international law is out of date.
“This is welcome news for the millions of people who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes and reflects the reality of the growing market for cannabis-based medicinal products,” a group of drug policy advocacy organizations said in a news release.