Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Restrict ganja use to medicinal purposes

Published:Saturday | August 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I agree with the views of Dr Winston De La Haye of the Jamaica Psychiatric Association ('Ganja decision should not be based on votes', Gleaner, August 11, 2014) in an article that stated: "While supporting the passage of the legislation to facilitate further research in the use of ganja for medicinal purposes, De La Haye is convinced that making it more accessible to the public for smoking would be courting disaster."

The article further mentions the "potential public health impact". The mental-health practitioner, clinical director of the Addiction Treatment Services Unit, emphasised that he and colleagues proposed going ahead in terms of medical use of cannabis, and extracts from cannabis, not the smoked products. Instead, they promote specific cannabis extracts with potential to help medical conditions.

I can remember clearly that there has been specific research into the use of cannabis sativa derivations in glaucoma, a welcome health input, especially for our geriatric age cohort.

From a humanitarian standpoint, it seems only wise and caring to allow use for medical purposes.

It is important to note that the last paragraph of the above-mentioned article states: "Each night, the (Addiction Treatment Services) unit fields calls from an average of five ganja users seeking admission for treatment with their mental-health issues, mainly schizophrenia, but it is unable to admit them."

Dysfunctions, such as schizophrenia, can be debilitating and uncomfortable, requiring much treatment. Facilities and personnel are limited. What is especially desirable is prevention, which is anchored by scientifically supported legislation. Let us not forget that even the second-hand or secondary smoker is affected by his or her inhalations. Sadly, doctors also have to battle with diagnoses of respiratory illnesses or lung cancers associated with persons who smoke.

C.D. SMITH

Manchester