Medicinal cannabis on the horizon

Detailed picture of a marijuana plant
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By Kadeem Joseph

Patients with ailments that can be treated with marijuana may soon see some reprieve as plans advance to have doctors wishing to prescribe the controlled drug specially trained.

Algernon Roberts, who is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Antigua and Barbuda Cannabis Authority, said while a person who is seeking to use marijuana for medicinal purposes can only do so after a recommendation by a medical practitioner, there are no doctors who are authorised to do so presently.

“They must be trained first and then register with the authority before they can start to prescribe,” he said. “We are doing all of the other administrative things in the background to make it happen in the shortest time.”

The CEO is expected to meet with the head of the medical council today to discuss the issue.

Roberts said pharmacists desirous of being involved in the industry will also have to be trained and the documents to this end have already been passed on to the head of the pharmaceutical council for consideration.

He explained that training is also necessary at other levels of the production and processing of the controlled substance to ensure that everyone involved understands the laws under which they are governed.

“I am hopeful by October we can finish all of that,” he added.

While the authority was established over a year ago, the Jasmine Court office was only opened in May due to delays caused by Covid-19, according to Roberts.

Under the Cannabis Act of 2018, medicinal cannabis that may be prescribed is defined as “those derivatives and infused products of medicinal cannabis that exists in a form whereby exact dosage can be quantified and standardised and therefore may be prescribed by medical professionals and shall not include raw medicinal cannabis extracts, psychoactive cannabinoids or medicinal cannabis flowers.”

The Act defines a qualifying medical condition as a serious ailment likely to result in a significant decrease in one’s quality of life. It highlights AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, severe nausea and sleep disorders among others, along with any other illness or condition approved by the authorised medical professional.

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