Medical ganja for Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Photo by George Alleyne

Barbados is suddenly and rapidly moving towards legalising use of marijuana in the medicinal form, but its recreational uses will have to take a back seat until the entire population has a formal say in the matter through a vote.

Following years of resistance mainly by the religious community supported by some in the legal fraternity and educators, all who were loud in condemnation at the notion of ganja use in any form, the Prime Minister of Barbados of just under six months has announced that a mechanism is being put in place for medical marijuana to be legally prescribed on the island.

“There is no doubt that we will put a framework in place for medical cannabis within the next week or so. In fact, we have … taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” the Barbados TODAY newspaper reported Mottley saying over the weekend.

Against the backdrop of a customary loud disdainful reaction by the powerful religious community in this traditionally devoutly Christian community, Mottley’s announcement served as a broadside on the ganja naysayers.

She added that legal use of the plant for recreational purposes will be decided down the road through a referendum.

Her announcement of the imminent introduction of medical marijuana should come as relief to many Barbadians who have publicly complained of their inability to get access to this drug for therapeutic relief despite having it recommended by their doctors.

But Mottley is also seeing the business side of granting the plant, or its extract legal status in Barbados, the domicile of many offshore companies that are funding marijuana start-up corporations in other countries where its use is legal.

“You cannot have your primary market which is Canada, the international business and financial services sector moving rapidly into new areas of investment and you can’t match as a domicile, the ability to accommodate those new areas of investment because if you don’t what are they going to do? Go elsewhere,” she said.

Two days following that online publication’s revelations the Nation newspapers reported acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George confirming that the authorising agency, the Ministry of Health, was well on its way to approving medicinal marijuana.

George reportedly said that cannabanoids, a marijuana extract is the first drug to be granted legal use on the island.

Cannabanoids are associated with pain relief and elation that help a patient in recovery.

“The ministry [of Health] will be focused on the use of cannabanoids in very specific conditions,” Dr. George said, adding, “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.”

“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,” George said.

“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,” he said.

The Nation also reported that the list of ailments for which medical marijuana will be used comprises anorexia, nausea, chronic pain, seizure disorders in children, wasting syndrome, and elasticity in multiple sclerosis.

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