CND Intersessional Meeting, 25 February 2019

Chair: Good morning. We have a live coverage between Vienna and Geneva today, our agenda is already shared and if there are no comments, we go ahead. We have with us today Gilles Forte and professor Simon Elliot from ECDD who have kindly agreed to answer questions on the recommendations from the outcome of the 41st ECDD. Let’s take that item first before we continue with the agenda. In consideration of scheduling recommendations, concerning of the outcome of the 41st session of ECDD from 12-13 November 2018… One notification informs about 10 NPS and two painkillers, in this regard the ECDD assessed 4 fentanyls and 5 synthetic cannabinoids, it also recommended to keep 3 substances under surveillance – these were already presented to the CND orally at the reconvened 61st session in December. Concerning the review of Cannabis, the ECDD made several recommendations including dronabinol and tinctures among others.  It was not presented during the reconvened but were formally shared with the states in 2 note verbale in 2019 to which MS submitted questions. So, we request you to submit your questions to the secretary by 28th of February – I’ve been approached by a number of MS with a concern that there might not be enough time to come prepared to CND considering the complex domestic indications – in response, I called the extended bureau and regional groups to consult on the course of action. The commission has the following options: (1) may take action in march on all recommendations, (2) may also decide it needs more time and postpone action to a later date, (3) some of the recommendations may be undertaken and some might be postponed.
During the discussions with the extended bureau, following resolution 2/2S/7 in matters of scheduling, it came up that the WHO is requested to present their recommendations to the SG at least 3 months prior to the session. Last Friday at the extended bureau, chairs of the regional groups informed me that states could not go wrong with option 3. So I would submit a simple procedural decision for your consideration: postponement regarding critical review of cannabis because of the 3 months’ time period to provide more time for states to consider this and go forward with the other recommendations – can we agree to this?

Norway: When will the vote happen? My delegation expressed that we would like to see the vote happening and not an indefinite postponement.

Uruguay: We have mentioned before we prefer option 1. We are still don1t have a clear explanation on why takes so long to consider recommendations when these took in the same meeting of the ECDD as the others – we don’t want to block the consensus and we understand some MS need more time to consider, we can go along with a later consideration but it would be nice to know when. Why has this internal clearance take so long? It is important for us to consider in march, at least talk about it.

Japan: Thank you for your effort for discussing this with the extended bureau and making use of the regional groups’ mechanism. We support your proposal – our standpoint is that it is important to postpone because this recommendation is not a simple decision, we’d like to have a better understanding and to have a dialogue with WHO. This involves relaxation of regulations and we need to look into that matter and assess possible impact. You mentioned the 3 months’ time as necessary, as everybody knows here that this doesn’t allow us a lot of time to begin with. As for NPS, last December there was an oral explanation and, from our standpoint, the content is clear and simple -there is a difference with cannabis. My understanding is that most regional groups support option 3.

Chair: Some questions are very technical and will be handled by experts from Geneva. As was flagged before, during the meeting of the extended bureau some wish to clarify what means a later date. Some MS have a preference for the voting to take place at the reconvened 62 session, other MS have a preference for the next regular session in 2020. I propose that we agree that the Commission will not take action in March and then we decide the date of the vote at a later date. It is so decided.

During consideration if item 9a during the 62nd session, changes in the scope…. be considered by the commission in the mooring of the 19th of march will be considered so all states have the opportunity to focus on the scheduling at the plenary. Is this acceptable? It is so decided.  I now give the floor of the representatives of the WHO and ECDD.

Gilles Forte (WHO): Excellencies, as it was mentioned by Mr. Chair there are a number of substances that were reviewed in November 2018 and these were fentanyl analogues 5 and 1 cathinol, 2 medicines and 4 synthetic analogues. For the committee to carry out the reviews, it was an intense process involving different partners, an unprecedented number of contributions from countries in relation to NPS. In 2018, we had two meetings actually, in June we explicitly reviewed cannabis and related substances. As you all know, the work of the expert committee is mandated by the 61 and 71 conventions and we specifically review the risks and importance of therapeutic use – based on this, we submit the recommendations so with respect to the substances, there were about 9 NPS that we recommended for scheduling, under surveillance 1 NPS and 2 medicines, We also issued a number of recommendations regarding cannabis to change the level of control. In terms of the way forward, we had a number of opportunities to engage with member states to provide more clarity on the recommendations. Among others, we’ve been engaged with the EU, the WHO executive board, and we are happy to discuss with you the recommendations in more depth. In the 6th of march we will have an informational session – we are prepared to continue these exchanges to ensure the recommendations are well understood so that you will be able to make the best possible decisions. I am pleased to respond to any questions of the delegates now.

Canada: I admit I wasn’t aware we will have the opportunity this morning to converse with Geneva. I have some questions: Scheduling of cannabis and resin in schedule 1 – it is intended to be based on similarity principle, we are wondering if this is the approach taken by ECDD? THC content in CBD preparations – why has the ECDD settled on that particular figure? Why was the sharing of the results delayed?

Russia: We believe more dialogue will be needed on this matter. We welcome the participation of WHO and ECDD members in CND sessions. More time would be required to be prepared for this discussion. At this stage, we have this question: many countries use cannabis and its components for medical components and these are produced at an industrial scale, which actual limits exist bearing in mind the current scheduling?

Mexico: Every day we find more and more products with cannabis related components – given that we are going into utilization of these components, how are we addressing the challenges posed by inclusion of these in food products?

Simon Elliot (ECDD): The decision was made in consideration of cannabis not having the same risks as other substances in schedule 1 in relation to public health. The associated decision was around schedule 4, on the basis that cannabis and resin is not reliable to abuse compared to similar substances in schedule 4 – in terms of 1, we felt it did warrant to stay in that category. In terms of the reasoning of the threshold 0.2 – it is difficult to assess the THC content but there is precedence of these percentages in relation to coca leaf and opium/morphine so it was along those lines an equivalent. During clinical trials and studies with CBD rich preparations that contained this amount, there occurred no issues or ill effects, so we adopted that as it was a traced level.

WHO: On our end, unlike in previous years, we met twice this past year as there were a lot of complex issues to consider and the fact that there were to full meetings with the briefing of our senior management while other meetings running parallel… it meant it was not possible for us to submit the recommendations before the date that we did. We submitted the recommendations as soon as it was possible.

Gilles Forte (WHO): Regarding the barriers of research, having plants under two schedules created barriers for medical research. Removing from schedule 4, as believed by a number of scientists, has the potential to increase the level of research. There has been clear evidence that this will have an effect of upscale, while keeping it in schedule 1 allows regulation still. We welcome Russia’s proposal for further dialogue, we are very eager and prepared to do that.  Answering Mexico, we are aware of the issue, at this point we haven’t had discussions with the FEU but we plan on engaging there.

United States: We look forward to the expert level consultation as was conducted in regards to NPS – many MS are concerned with the justifications as well as the practical implementations of the recommendations. We request the participation of other relevant UN agencies, particularly an INCB- CND-UNODC dialogue.

Germany: Thanks for the diligent handling of this matter, every statement has highlighted the complexity of this issue. As the USA made this point, coming to an informed consent before deciding is of utmost importance, including an impact assessment on the markets – so I suggest and expert consultation with the participation of both INCB and WHO to achieve a clear picture by the end of this year.

Russia: Could WHO share the publications mentioned – in our understanding the evidence shows the increased use of cannabis for medical purposes which means research is indeed carried out. We would also like to support previous speakers in encouraging a UNODC-WHO-INCB dialogue which should be continued after the 62nd session as it would be more reasonable to work on this after the HLMS and the regular session.

Gilles Forte (WHO): We welcome the idea of this consultation involving MS, WHO, UNODC, INCB – we are already working very closely, INCB and UNODC are part of the ECDD meetings and we are happy to continue this collaboration. We take note of Russia’s request on further information and will follow-up.

UNODC: Controlling while ensuring access to medicine is an extremely important job. It is without doubt one of the most complicated issues. Regarding the comments by Germany, Russia and USA, I confirm the dialogue with WHO and we welcome further consultations to look at cannabis and related recommendations. We will give a presentation at the next intersessional about the ECDD recommendations including all relevant issues you should bear in mind when considering them.

Secretary: We look forward to facilitating further dialogue with colleagues at the WHO. Today I will talk about procedures. We receive a lot of questions from MS regarding the procedure of voting, so I will now go through the main points as it would be useful for everyone to have the same information.  The voting rules and majority is different per convention (as per pic below). The method of voting is as follows: we go thought each individual substance by show of hands (in favor, against or abstain), following an introductory remark by the relevant agency according to the conventions’ requirements. Secretariat reads out votes before MS lowers signs, followed by a possibility to make brief statements solely explaining vote.

Chair: I see no questions, we proceed. Thanks to Geneva. In preparation to the upcoming Ministerial Segment and Regular Session – Opening of the HLMS: there will be a ceremonial followed by a formal opening, we will have speakers: representative of the scientific community, youth forum, civil society on behalf of CSTF. UNODC, INCB presidents will deliver introductory remarks in the formal and we are awaiting response from WHO. General debate: as per resolution 61/10, high-level representatives of member states will make statements in their national capacities, civil societies members of EcoSoc – deadline is on the 4th of March for the nomination of speakers, order will be decided by a draft. Notes are available online (link).

Secretary: We kindly ask those who haven’t submitted their speakers to do so before noon 4th of March. We have some prime ministers and over 20 cabinet ministers in attendance so far. We are happy to provide further info should you need.

Chair: Statements maximum of 5 minutes to enable all to have the opportunity to address the floor. Regional groups: maximum 7 minutes. As per 61/10 someone from secretariat will be there and I will make a summary at the end. Roundtable discussions held parallel to the general debate – themes: taking stock in light of the 2019 target date paragraph 36 of 2009 political declaration; safeguarding the future through strengthening international cooperation. As per resolution 61/10, each table consists of 5 panelists from regional groups and one nominated by the CSTF. Each will be co-chaired by different regional groups: 1st by Western European states and Eastern European, 2nd Latin America and Caribbean with the Asia Pacific group. There will be no list of speakers, the conversation will be guided by the chairs. We will use board room A. Concerning the outcome: co-chairs will summarize and present at the plenary prior to the closure, this is not subject to negotiations. The organization of roundtables is included in the note verbal prepared by the Secretary. I see no questions. Regarding the timing of ministerial declaration, we set a deadline for us as 1st of March, that would allow us to welcome the final at the next intersessional and adopted at the HLMS on the morning session on the 14th of March. I see no questions, we proceed with comments on the outcome document.

European Union: We commend the work put into this document to reflect on what we achieved in how to implement our work going forward. Human rights based & scientific approach can enable a useful future for drug policy. UNGASS is the latest consensus, most comprehensive document, it1s implementation is necessary to improve the current situation – it is important to focus on its implementation with various international bodies and agencies in line with the 2030 agenda and effectively address the world drug problem. The implementation of the UNGASS will rely on the scientific community and data and result in improved policies.

Nigeria: Thank you for your work. My facilitator is not here to give her notes but what I can say that a zero-draft developed into a ministerial declaration has shown great progress. There are paragraphs still being negotiated as MS have strong opinions on some particular issues, but generally we see that nations are willing and motivated to make progress. We see challenges in flexibility on some paragraphs but we have sufficient time before the 1st of March.

Chair: I call upon all member states to productively engage in the negotiations.

Venezuela: Thank you for your work in this dynamic process. We look forward to the ministerial segment and to take decisive steps towards improving the international drug control system in harmony with human rights. We reiterate the foundations to the outcome to our understanding: common and shared responsibility; respect to health, education and human rights, interdisciplinary approach; finding common elements and flexibility; sovereignty of member states and non-interference.

Chair: COW will be chaired by … start with draft resolution 3pm 19th of March on 9a. Amendments to the final version should be made. Invite everyone to start informal consultations on the draft resolutions.

Turkey: We are one of the countries that tabled one resolution. Addressing precursors, there is an increasing issue according to INCB, we think we should keep this on the agenda of CND and find new and affective methods and we will hold informal consultations with interested resolutions.

Chair: Other business. Side events during the 62nd CND – the Secretariat received more than 100 valid applications. The program of events and exhibits will be available soon.

Contribution to the work of EcoSoc: we have been invited to provide input to the UN HLPF, it has been shared with the extended bureau. This is the central platform to follow-up on progress of the 2030 agenda. Thematic review on SDGs are mandated to be supported by the functional commissions, including CND – empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness will be the focus, as well as 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17. Following the practice of previous years, the Secretariat prepared a draft and MS are welcome to share their comments until the 27th of February.
Regarding the online database of CND resolutions, I give the floor to the Secretariat.

Secretariat: 8 resolutions have been tabled by Member States – cosponsoring is open to all, the deadline is 4 weeks prior to the first day of the Commission. The proposals are introduced by the sponsors – considered by the COW and adopted at the Plenary. The resolutions can be found on the website of CND. While the resolutions become documents, the final and adopted ones are not issued as separate ones. Usually, the only way to see the final version is to open the file of the session where it was adopted – as a service, we post them cut out of the reports. We now have a resolutions database on the website going back to 1946.

So now, resolutions have been submitted and are being edited. They will be available on the CND website. If they are substantially altered in the COW, they are usually re-prepared and re-negotiated.

Chair: I see no questions. Before I conclude, I give the floor to the VNGOC.

Jamie Bridge (VNGOC): Tomorrow, the CSTF holds a civil society hearing in preparation for the 2019 Ministerial Segment.

Chair: Before we leave, I give the floor to Ambassador Okeke to talk about her informals.

Ambassador Okeke: We had the last informal last Friday afternoon, we are making progress and achieved consensus on paragraphs in all three parts of the resolution. There are particular issues where I asked MS to work in small groups to arrive at a conclusion. I thank colleague ambassadors who have taken it upon themselves to reach out to delegations who feel are a red area and build bridges. This process is an important one we have to work together one if we agree that the world drug problem is a serious one. If we believe in the scourge of the world drug problem, we all have to give up something to arrive to a consensus. Thanks for the positive and constructive participation, I look forward to working together with you.

Chair: With these words, I conclude this meeting. Our next intersessional will be held on the 7th of March. Meeting adjourned.

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