Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Health Ministry says no to smoking marijuana, yes to five meds

Health and Wellness Minister Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic

Health and Wellness Minister Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic

The Mia Mottley led government says it will not be giving approval for medicinal marijuana to be used in cigarette form.

The outright declaration from Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant  Colonel Jeffrey Bostic at the start of a two-day training seminar for Health Care Providers in Therapeutic Prescribing of Medicinal Marijuana, organized by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.

“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that smoking really contributes anything beneficial in terms of any ailments that people might have, so, that was ruled out from day one. 

“It was presented to cabinet and it was accepted and we are going to stay with that until any other information is made available to the Ministry [which] suggests otherwise,” he said.

Back in March, when Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivered her 2019-2019 budget, she announced plans for establishing a medicinal cannabis industry project implementation unit, tasked with establishing the administrative framework for the timely implementation of the project.

She said then that one of the tasks of the unit would be to facilitate the establishment of a Medicinal Cannabis Authority and Board, which will be responsible for regulating the medicinal cannabis industry, through the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies, procedures and guidelines, as well as for the conduct of inspections.

That announcement by the prime minister was in keeping a 2018 manifesto pledge to allow medicinal marijuana to be available to those who needed it.

The Health Minister announced yesterday, “a week or two ago,  I actually signed off on the list of medicinal cannabis drugs that the Drug Formulary Committee submitted to be placed on the Drug Formulary, and for the Barbados Drug Service to be able to import those products.

“. . . We are really on the way now in terms of making this a reality.  This training this workshop was mandated by cabinet so that we in this country set a high standard as we advance with this project.  Apart from what we are doing, the major project is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security . . . that is because it is our intention to get into every aspect of it including cultivating, production, marketing everything and most importantly research and development.  That is a mandate given to me by the prime minister of this country.”

Bostic said he was also happy with the direction in which the UWI was headed, as Barbados intended to a major player in the medicinal cannabis market.

“I [also] give the assurance that the average Barbadian will not be excluded from this process and persons who might have been ostracized and even criminalized in the past are being included in this process, as we try to map out the direction that we want to go with this industry.”

Meantime, he has also expressed excitement about the prospect such a project held for Barbados and the progress being made. 

“The Drug formulary committee and we have had discussions and consultations with BAMP - the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners and other stakeholders in this process, we have also taken the time to interact with people for Canada, Jamaica, St Vincent . . . people who have started this process and to see exactly the road that we want to take here in Barbados.

“I am absolutely satisfied that we have taken the right route to get to where we are today and even though there were some delays, those delays allowed us to enhance the product that we want to be able to deliver to Barbadians.” 

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