Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Health ministry supports conditional use of cannabis for research and medicinal purposes

Published:Tuesday | November 20, 2018 | 11:11 PM
Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, says the Ministry of Health supports the use of cannabis and products derived from the plant for research and medicinal purposes, where scientific evidence validates their benefits and effectiveness in treating specific conditions.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said the ministry is prepared to accept or evaluate products that are administered in a particular form.

These, she informed, include tinctures, vaping, sublingual drops, topical solutions and capsules made from extracts, adding that the ministry regulates the compounds made from cannabis extracts.

"We are responsible for the safety, consistency and effectiveness of the products that we register," she explained.

According to the chief medical officer, the products' therapeutic authenticity are validated through studies that are carefully reviewed by the ministry, which, she notes, also monitors distribution and sale of the products by registered authorities.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie emphasised that the products must be administered by a medical professional.

"The prescription or recommendation of these items are by medical professionals who would have been educated about the products and their indications in the same way as any other drug on the market," she said.

This, she added, is imperative, as the industry is highly specialised and requires adherence to specific standards to produce a drug for medicinal use.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie alluded to the report of the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana 2018, which states that access to medical marijuana should be facilitated for qualifying conditions in which there is clear evidence of its therapeutic benefits and for debilitating life-threatening conditions that are intractable to treatment, and where there is evidence of possible benefits.

"These include patients on chemotherapy with nausea and vomiting, glaucoma, asthma, anorexia and weight loss in AIDS, cancers, anorexia nervosa, chronic and neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders and some neuropsychiatric disorders" she outlined.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said it is also important to note that the amendments to the Dangerous Drug Act, facilitating the use of medicinal marijuana, states that the user must be certified by a registered medical practitioner as suffering from cancer or any other terminal or serious chronic illness, and that the medicinal or therapeutic product is recommended by that registered medical practitioner.