A United Nations (UN) commission has taken an important step in eliminating the legal stigma long associated with marijuana. On Wednesday, the Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove it and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the UN's Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs -- its classification for the world's most dangerous drugs.
The vote passed by a thin 27-to-25 margin with one abstention in the 53-member Commission.
While marijuana remains in the document, an international treaty intended to serve as a blueprint for law enforcement on drugs, it is now only in Schedule 1. This is reserved for substances that pose little threat.
The move was the most significant of a small set of votes the Commission took on cannabis based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) handed down in January 2019. A measure on deleting marijuana extracts and tinctures from Schedule 1 failed to pass.
The Single Convention essentially serves as a guideline, as it ultimately leaves drug laws and policy up to the member states. However, the UN is an influential organization, so its move on cannabis should support legalization efforts around the globe.
One Commission member, Canada, has already legalized marijuana entirely. As a result, some of the top names in publicly traded cannabis are based in the country, such as Canopy Growth (CGC -2.60%) and Aurora Cannabis (ACB -0.99%). Struggling with a host of issues in their industry, Canopy Growth, Aurora, and their peers are willing and eager to expand internationally when the legalization trend catches fire.
Not surprisingly, the shares of both companies were up significantly in mid-afternoon trading Wednesday. Canopy Growth was 5.8% higher, while Aurora was springing ahead by 10.3%; both were well outpacing the gains of the S&P 500 index.