Drug nod Med­i­cal mar­i­juana ap­proved as pain treat­ment in Bar­ba­dos

UK Barbados Nation - - NEWS - By BARRY ALLEYNE

BAR­BA­DOS is on the verge of hav­ing medic­i­nal mar­i­juana added to the for­mu­lary of the Bar­ba­dos Drug Ser­vice.

In a his­toric move, the Min­istry of Health and Well­ness, Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Bar­ba­dos Drug Ser­vice and the lo­cal med­i­cal fra­ter­nity will soon im­ple­ment a joint pro­gramme that will give doc­tors here the green light to pre­scribe the drug once they com­plete train­ing sanc­tioned by the Min­istry of Health.

Last re­sort

Im­por­ta­tion of the range of drugs, known of­fi­cially as canna­banoids, will be ap­proved only as a last re­sort, if con­ven­tional meth­ods of pain man­age­ment have failed.

“The min­istry [of Health] will be fo­cused on the use of canna­banoids in very spe­cific con­di­tions,” the is­land’s Chief

Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer, Dr Ken­neth Ge­orge, re­vealed in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Bar­ba­dos Na­tion.

“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,” he added.

But the smok­ing of the veg­e­ta­tive ver­sion of the drug will not form part of the new pro­gramme.

“The Min­istry of Health at this stage does not sup­port the smok­ing of mar­i­juana as a means of de­liv­ery of a medic­i­nal prod­uct. The smok­ing, as we see it, is too un­pre­dictable and causes too much psy­chotropic and neu­ro­toxic ef­fects, and at this time there is no clear ev­i­dence that smok­ing mar­i­juana is used as the medic­i­nal form,” Ge­orge made clear.

He said the min­istry’s pro­gramme would fo­cus on oral forms of the med­i­ca­tion, and that would be pre­dom­i­nantly the type of canna­banoid made avail­able to pain-man­age­ment pa­tients.

Oils and ex­tracts from the drug will also be al­lowed.

Canna­banoids, be­cause of their po­tency, will be con­sid­ered Sched­ule 1 drugs, sim­i­lar to mor­phine, and will there­fore at­tract the same pro­to­cols to con­trol im­por­ta­tion, pre­scrip­tion and use.

Pre­dictable ben­e­fit

“In the first in­stance, there would have to be im­por­ta­tion.

When the canna­banoids come to Bar­ba­dos we have to be ab­so­lutely cer­tain that we can make sure what we give is what the pa­tient gets, and that it has a pre­dictable ben­e­fit. We ex­pect med­i­cal mar­i­juana will be given the same type of safe­guards (as Sched­ule 1 drugs) to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion and the per­sons who will dis­pense the drug.”

The Min­istry of Health will de­velop the guide­lines for use of the drug, and will rely on lo­cal stake­hold­ers to help roll out the pro­gramme. “We pre­fer to have a core group of per­sons who are recog­nised by the fra­ter­nity to be the ini­tial gate­keep­ers with re­spect to the pre­scrip­tion and dis­pens­ing of med­i­cal mar­i­juana,” Ge­orge ad­vised.

He said in­ter­ested groups of per­sons had ap­proached the Min­istry of Health re­quest­ing some clar­i­fi­ca­tion on their sta­tus re­gard­ing the drug in the last sev­eral months, but min­istry of­fi­cials wanted to be pa­tient in mov­ing for­ward, and not have a knee-jerk re­ac­tion.

Still, Dr Ge­orge ex­pects that with the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture tak­ing the lead role in the pro­gramme, Bar­ba­dos be­com­ing a le­gal and of­fi­cial pro­ducer of the drug for spe­cific medic­i­nal pur­poses may not be far off.

“The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture has been tak­ing the lead in this project be­cause there is strong ev­i­dence that med­i­cal mar­i­juana would have eco­nomic ben­e­fits if Bar­ba­dos was able to pro­duce it down the road,” he added.

It is ex­pected the pro­gramme could come on stream by next year.

(FP)

MED­I­CAL MAR­I­JUANA will soon be­come a pre­scribed drug for pa­tients in Bar­ba­dos.

(FP)

DR KEN­NETH GE­ORGE

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