Role Of The World Health Organization

The Convention on Psychotropic Substances allows the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs to add substances to its schedules, and also to transfer or remove them. WHO recommends what it considers to be the appropriate placement of drugs within schedules. A party to the convention may ask the United Nations secretary-general to recommend that WHO place other drugs under control. WHO reviews substances to determine whether they have the ''capacity to produce a state of dependence and central nervous system stimulation or depression resulting in hallucination or disturbances in motor function or thinking or behavior or mood'' and whether they pose a risk to public health. WHO must make known in great detail the criteria it applied in evaluating a psychotropic substance for control.

The evaluations WHO makes are based on scientific and medical criteria, but in deciding whether to accept or reject WHO's recommenda tions, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs may consider social, economic, and political issues. A two-thirds majority vote is required, however, before the Commission may alter or amend a schedule. If, because of exceptional circumstances, a party cannot apply the provisions of the convention to a newly added substance, it may notify the United Nations secretary-general and obtain permission to satisfy only minimal control requirements.

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