Don’t delay medi-ganja
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Many persons are asking why the Jamaican authorities are taking so long to approve the distribution of medical cannabis to help to alleviate current health problems. An article in The Gleaner of April 19, 2017 cited Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of science, energy and technology, as saying, "We are a blessed nation, blessed people, but we are dilly-dallying too much around with medical marijuana ... . Jamaica is not being serious or decisive about whether it will pursue a medical marijuana industry ... ."
Some locally developed topical cannabis products for pain relief have already met pharmaceutical standards and were approved by the Ministry of Health many months ago. Surely, the authorities can avoid further delay by approving their release for public use. These natural products are needed now for pain relief.
Twenty-six American states and Washington, DC, have approved the use of medical marijuana, of which four also permit recreational use, while the federal government retains its illegal status. Many other countries have approved the use of medical marijuana. These include Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Romania, France and Uruguay.
The Netherlands has allowed for many years its use in designated coffee shops. Portugal decriminalised all drugs more than 10 years ago and their use did not increase; rather it decreased over time. Crime was reduced as a result, as addicts did not have to commit a crime to get money to access their drug, and they could seek help for their addiction without having to admit to a felony.
Cannabis/ganja is cited as the least addictive drug. Legal substances such as tobacco, alcohol and prescribed medicines, such as opioids, are far more addictive and injurious to health. These are known to cause cancer and injure vital organs with prolonged use.
Rather than calling for more research, the experiences of other countries should answer concerns and help in guiding the development of practical regulations.