Marijuana shouldn’t be classified alongside heroin and parts shouldn’t be controlled at all, the World Health Organisation says.

Long-awaited recommendations from the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) are recommending that marijuana be removed from the ‘most dangerous’ category of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

If the recommendations are adopted, it will mean a loosening of regulations around the world by national drug agencies that take their lead from the international Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, signed in 1961.

And that will means more doors in more countries opening to Australia’s globally-focused pot stocks which currently include Elixinol Global (ASX:EXL), Medlab Clinical (ASX:MDC) and AusCann (ASX:AC8).

The evidence says pot isn’t like cocaine, meth, heroin…

Thee WHO’s recommendations were expected in December.

The 53 countries that are signatories to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was expected to vote on them in March. But this may be postponed until next year because of the delay in delivering the report.

The recommendations are for THC, the part of cannabis that produces the famous ‘high’, to be put into the lowest category, Schedule 1.

Cannabidiol (CBD), the part of cannabis that is the focus of many drug companies, and preparations containing less than 0.2 per cent THC, should be de-scheduled completely.

And pharmaceutical products containing THC will be downgraded to Schedule III of the convention.

The WHO said the evidence didn’t indicate the cannabis plant and cannabis resin, specifically, were likely to products “ill-effects” comparable to the other drugs, such as cocaine, that are in the Schedule IV category.

“In addition, preparations of cannabis have shown therapeutic potential for treatment of pain and other medical conditions such as epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis,” the report said.

“Cannabis and cannabis resin should be scheduled at a level of control that will prevent harm caused by cannabis use and at the same time will not act as a barrier to access and to research and development of cannabis-related preparation for medical use.”

What this means for pot stocks

If the recommendations are adopted it will have far-reaching consequences for the pot industry in Australia and around the world.

Elixinol Global chief Paul Benhaim believes it could open the door wider for CBD, an element found in low-THC hemp, to become less regulated and more widely used.

“The new recommendations from WHO to the United Nations regarding the reclassification of cannabis are excellent improvements and huge news for the industry at large,” he told Stockhead.

“I believe that if the UN allowed the regular use of CBD then even Australia may recognise CBD should not be classified as ‘medicinal cannabis’, but rather as a food or nutritional supplement.”

A wave of decriminalisation and legalisation of medical cannabis has already begun to spread around the world, with even Thailand jumping in.

De-classifying various elements of the plant being into less restrictive categories in the global drug control treaty could speed adoption of legislation.

It also means national drug enforcement agencies are more likely to dial back their own controls of marijuana.

For example, the powerful US FDA has already said CBD doesn’t qualify for federal regulations but if treaties the country is signatory to — such as the Single Convention — demand that it is regulated, they’ll have to follow those rules instead.

It said last year that its marijuana scheduling practices would be “revisited promptly” if international treaty obligations changed.