ICCI and the scientific consensus on medical cannabis

ICCI and the scientific consensus on medical cannabis
© iStock/Darren415

ICCI, the first Centre of Excellence in the medical cannabis field, is an organisation that combines various institutions (universities, high-tech companies, associations) which consequently provide services to a broad array of entities around the world interested in the development of cannabis and cannabinoids as medicine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced its recommendation to governments to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Schedule IV of the Single Convention contains narcotic drugs that are considered particularly dangerous and without any therapeutic importance. Cannabis and cannabis resin were included in this Schedule at the time of the adoption of the Single Convention in 1961. Governments are encouraged by the Single Convention to prohibit the production, distribution, and use of drugs in this Schedule.

The determination of patients to fight for legal access to medical cannabis and the quickly increasing amount of scientific evidence confirming its medical usefulness has led, since the 1990s, to the establishment of medical cannabis programmes in some countries. However, the vast majority of patients around the world have continuously been prevented from the legal access to this medicine. The advocates of the medical use of cannabis, both patients and scientists, have been repeatedly requesting that the WHO fulfil its mandate under the Single Convention and carry out a scientific review of cannabis to fairly evaluate its therapeutic usefulness in order to propose a correction of its status under the Single Convention.

Americans for Safe Access

In March 2016, the group of world-renowned cannabis experts convened by the patients´ organisation ‘Americans for Safe Access’ submitted a comprehensive document to the WHO proving the medical usefulness of cannabis and structured strictly in line with the WHO review practice. Following that, in November 2016, the WHO agreed to carry out a review of cannabis and its derivatives. This review process took place in several stages and has now been finalised with the issuance of these recommendations to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

“It is gratifying that the World Health Organization has recognised the scientific fact that cannabis and its derivatives have demonstrable therapeutic properties and can be the base for safe and effective medicines. It is now incumbent upon governments of the USA and other nations to eliminate the barriers to research on cannabis and allow its free commerce across state lines and international frontiers,” stated Ethan Russo, MD, a neurologist and Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI).


In addition, the WHO made recommendations to reschedule dronabinol and other THC isomers from the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances to the Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.

Furthermore, the WHO recommended the inclusion of some cannabis and THC preparations in Schedule III of the 1961 Convention which would exempt them from many control measures contained therein and, importantly, facilitate access for patients. The WHO also recommended CND to confirm that CBD preparations containing not more than 0.2% of THC are not under international control. None of these modifications would change the prohibition of cannabis and THC for recreational purposes.

“These recommendations were inevitable and their adoptions by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs would enhance public health globally,” stated Dr Pavel Pachta, ICCI’s International Regulatory Affairs Director and former Deputy Secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). “We do not expect that the CND would vote against these recommendations as they come from scientific experts and are based on rigorous scientific review.”

In line with the provisions of the Single Convention, these WHO recommendations should be put to a vote during the 62nd session of the CNDs, which will meet in Vienna, Austria, in March, 2019. 53 states are members of this Commission and a single majority of the members present and voting is required to approve the recommendations by the WHO.
However, it is not out of the question that the states will decide to postpone the vote in the Commission to its 63rd session in 2020 due to the very limited time to examine these recommendations prior to the 2019 meeting.

ICCI – Removing barriers for medical cannabis

With the new WHO recommendations there will be a new potential in research and development in medical cannabis. ICCI aims to remove all possible barriers preventing the development of research on the possibilities of medical cannabis and its utilisation. Co-operation with the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute enables everyone with an interest in researching medical cannabis to gain the background and facilities of a top international team, patient experiences and the organisational background of a strong scientific institution.


An undeniable global interest in the study of cannabis treatments has inspired the creation of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI), the first Center of Excellence in this field. Located in the heart of Europe – the Czech Republic – ICCI identifies, co-ordinates, and supports global research priorities for the advancement of cannabis and cannabinoid treatments through a multidisciplinary evidence-based approach that incorporates innovative tools and knowhow. ICCI includes a staff of global experts and a network of over 40 universities, hi-tech companies, and institutions from around the world that serve as an international research and educational hub designed to meet the needs of the ever-growing cannabis industry.

ICCI’s primary mission is to research the various uses of medical cannabis, and it has all the right preconditions for doing so. The team of specialists is comprised of both physicians and experts in healthcare systems, as well as leading experts with direct experience with the scientific teams of the United Nations Organization, government bodies, and organisations. This is all supported by strong liaisons with patient organisations.

It is this combination of experience and relationships along with a thorough understanding of various methods of treatment with cannabis and cannabinoids that provides ICCI with unique knowhow in order to react to the rapid changes in legislative processes in individual nations.

ICCI offers deep understanding of the possibilities of medical cannabis for the needs of patients, particularly those that modern medical science may have failed to serve. Our efforts with cannabis-based medicine are always based on the needs of the patient and the requirements of the examining physician. Our educational efforts provide the foundation needed for disseminating the knowledge needed by all stakeholders in this dynamic area of medical science and law.

The potential of cannabis and cannabinoid treatments

Our experts know that unleashing the true potential of cannabis and cannabinoid treatments requires a cross-disciplinary approach that captures the current knowledge base across the fields of biomedical research, social science, life sciences, and policy research. This approach allows ICCI to identify and solve barriers to advancements and create platforms for shared knowledge. The diverse interest in cannabis and cannabinoid research spans across academia, research institutes, private endowments, governments, medical professionals, patient advocacy organisations, health services providers and product manufactures.

Medical cannabis and cannabinoids: A unique opportunity

ICCI offers a unique opportunity for everyone wanting to understand and utilise the opportunities that medical cannabis offers.

ICCI is a modern leadership hub that brings order to the disruption the medical cannabis industry represents, and gives it meaning that is both salient and relevant. We offer our clients and partners insights into the specific experiences of medical cannabis patients, the physicians who prescribe it, and research and development professionals who study this complex herb. Our experience also expands to the entire supply and care value chain including hospital administrators and healthcare specialists searching for a path towards efficient yet effective treatment. ICCI also supports government bodies and organisations working on legislative processes in their respective countries that aim to make medical cannabis accessible to the public.

ICCI is the largest private investment into medical research in the Czech Republic in recent years. Through its research efforts, ICCI is increasing the understanding of this plant and how to prepare it as needed medicine and innovative treatment method to benefit every patient.

Working with ICCI’s experts and services can save clients months and even years, thereby rapidly advancing their value proposition, while improving quality for patients and elevating
industry standards.

Risks for consumers

Due to growing interest and need for further scientific investigation on cannabis medicine, there are unique risks for consumers. The ICCI PFC – Patient Focused Certification framework is cannabis specific. Through our certification programme, we are able to prevent the major consumer risks, such as heavy metal contamination, pesticides, pathogens (mould/microbes, fungus, and bacteria), environmental contamination, adulterants, and the presence of residual solvents. Our analysis capabilities also ensure that products have a known amount of cannabinoids present.

In 2017, our PFC programme conducted the world’s first independent testing on the quality of CBD products available in the European Union, and in 2018 the second testing took place. Our findings demonstrate the need for safety standard certification for cannabis based products across the industry.

The ICCI Provides the following services to companies, institutions, universities, governments, and organisations.

  •  Patient Focused Certification
  •  Contract research organisation
  • Cannabis metabolomics services
  • Cannabis and cannabinoids education
  •  Plant research services
  •  Big Data services
  •  Consulting services
  •  Government Relations
  •  Regulatory affairs

Green light for medical cannabis in Czechia

ICCI is a unique place for those who see the future of medical science in the area of biomedicine, and are searching for a platform for investment, sharing, development or education in this area. Thus, in Prague, the green light shines for everyone wanting to quickly forge a pathway to the future.

International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute

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