Bajans getting medical ganja

Bajans getting medical ganja
Photo by George Alleyne

Any day now doctors in Barbados will be issuing prescriptions for medical cannabis enabling patients to uplift this drug from a pharmacy similar to the way in which they get other medication.

This is so because Barbados is on the verge of widespread dispensation of medical cannabis, through a prescription service that empowers doctors to recommend derivatives of the banned plant for patients ailing from a select number of discomforts or diseases.

While use of the plant for recreational purposes remains prohibited, government has conceded that there are to be found in it enough benefits to justify medical use and made it available in the National Drug Service, the state agency that lists all pharmaceuticals legally allowed for prescription by private and public doctors.

Health Minister, Jeffrey Bostic, has noted that Barbados’ current laws allow prescription of medical marijuana in special circumstances, and it is just a matter of now putting the logistics in place and compiling a list of authorised doctors.

“The current legislation gives the minister of health and wellness the authority to do so through the process of the Drug Formulary. That is what guides everything in Barbados in terms of dispensing and prescribing drugs. So we decided we would utilise that established process,” Bostick said days ago at the opening of a Training For Health Care Providers In Therapeutic Prescribing Of Medicinal Marijuana Products workshop, which is in preparation for prescription of the drug.

This drug, extracted from marijuana falls within a group called cannabinoids which are associated with pain relief and elation that help a patient in recovery.

Reportedly the ailments for which medical marijuana will be prescribed in Barbados comprise Anorexia, Nausea, Chronic Pain, Seizure Disorders in Children, Wasting Syndrome, and Elasticity in Multiple Sclerosis.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George had previously said “the ministry [of Health] will be focused on the use of cannabinoids in very specific conditions.

“Research has shown there is some therapeutic benefit. And with any drug, we realise there needs to be a predictable mechanism, duration of action and predictable side effects”.

The cannabinoids added to the local formulary include nabiximols, purified cannabidiol, synthetic nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, nabilone and dronabinol.

Minister of Health Bostic however warned that recreational use, including smoking, of cannabis remains illegal “because there is no scientific evidence to suggest that smoking contributes to any ailments people might have. So that was ruled out from day one.”

Government had announced last year that sometime in the future Barbadians will decide on legalisation of recreational marijuana through a national referendum.