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Beware of Colorado ganja system - scientist

Published:Tuesday | August 12, 2014 | 8:00 AM

A local scientist involved in the research, development and promotion of medicinal products from ganja is warning that measures must be put in place to safeguard against unintended state-sanctioned substance abuse, if Jamaica eventually moves to make the raw material or derivatives legally available for medicinal use.

Dr Charah Watson, technical director at Bio-Tech R&D Institute, who presented a paper on 'Psychopharmacology of Cannabis' on behalf of Dr Henry Lowe at Sunday's annual conference of the Jamaica Psychiatric Association, is warning about potential pitfalls of the Colorado system, where patients use prescriptions for medical ganja to feed their addiction and use it instead for recreational use.

Colorado law allows for adults aged 21 or older to grow up to six ganja plants (with no more than half being mature flowering plants) privately in a locked space. The law also allows those persons to legally possess all the ganja from the plants (as long as they stay where they are grown), and legally possess up to one ounce of the herb while travelling and give up to one ounce as a gift to other citizens 21 years of age or older for recreational use.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Watson has warned policymakers to take note of the Colorado system, which has been resulting in unintended consequences for some ganja users.

"What you're seeing in these shops is that you'll have variation in terms of strains of ganja available in the unadulterated plant material. So you're getting the buds, the flowers, that is what is being sold. In some instances, you do have a myriad of products like cookies, chocolate bars and your gummies ... . Some claim to have specific concentrations of particular compounds of interest - being your CBD or your THC, but for the most part, persons who are accessing these products are buying these flowers and buds which are not verified in terms of what is in there."

Watson was particularly wary of persons who are using the medicinal routes to get access to their products for recreational products.

"If you have a pain in your little finger, you go and get a prescription and buy various amounts depending on how much they are allowed. So we have persons who are abusing the system that they have in place, and it is not properly regulated or monitored," she said.