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Stop politicising ganja studies - UTech lecturer

Published:Saturday | August 15, 2015 | 8:00 AMChristopher Thomas

WESTERN BUREAU:

A lecturer from the University of Technology (UTech) is calling on ganja researchers to stop politicising the ongoing studies into the weed's medicinal properties, and to provide accurate information so health-care workers can properly counsel pregnant mothers who have used the substance.

Paulette Larmond, lecturer of the Caribbean School of Nursing at UTech, made the call during a public forum on ganja, which was held during the second biennial Nursing and Midwifery Research Conference at the Holiday Inn Resort and Spa in Montego Bay on Friday.

"We need to quit the politics and do what needs to be done. In my readings, persons who were for the use of marijuana, their studies leaned that way, and those who were against it, it leaned the other way. So, we have no definite literature to say that this baby is preterm, or this mother went into premature labour because of marijuana," Larmond said in her presentation on the potential effects of ganja use on expectant mothers and their unborn children.

"Health-care workers in the field of reproductive health must be knowledgeable as to whether your patients are smoking marijuana or taking it in any form," Larmond added. "The best preparation can only be when we have the scientific evidence because as I went through my readings, the evidence was not scientific; the researchers kept contradicting each other."

 

More girls using ganja

 

Larmond also said that based on her findings, there was an increase in the number of young girls who were using ganja, and that health-care professionals must be properly informed to counsel this group.

"It is a reality that there has been an increase in the use of marijuana among young adolescent girls ... that is, the child-bearing age," said Larmond. "Health professionals need adequate knowledge to be able to counsel these young people because it has implications for fertility and for the newborn."

Larmond continued: "We need to get involved with objective research studies, as midwives, minus the confounders; meaning, if we are going to do a study and we want a true result, then we do not want to study somebody who is taking marijuana plus tobacco because then we will not be able to say decisively 'this is as a result of that'."

Friday's public forum on ganja featured presentations on the research which has been done to date on the different chemical, pharmaceutical, and medicinal properties which could be harnessed from the weed.

In May this year, UTech was granted a marijuana research licence from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining to grow the herb for the purposes of research and development in keeping with the provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act.