Deyalsingh on medical cannabis: It won't be a free-for-all

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh. 
 Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says while discussions continue on the availability of medical cannabis for certain ailments, the drug will only be made available through a prescription from medical professionals.

During his contribution on a motion to adopt the report from a joint select committee (JSC) on the Cannabis Control Bill, Deyalsingh said among the issues addressed during consultations with ministry and industry stakeholders was the mechanisms for dispensing the drugs.

He noted that while some of the public may feel uneasy over the availability of marijuana for medicinal purposes, it would be done within the law and with proper oversight from the authorities.

"It's not a free-for-all and I think its important to give the public some comfort that the floodgates are not going to be opened – that you can simply walk into a pharmacy and get medical cannabis.

"It has to be prescribed, and I indicated that the University of the West Indies which is training it's students in the MBBS programme and the pharmacy programme, and I hope the TT Medical Association picks up the baton to do some continuing medical education sessions with doctors already in the system. So if you're a glaucoma patient and the drug comes, you can qualify for it."

Citing the Medical Board Act and section two of the Pharmacy Board Act, Deyalsingh said only a doctor would be qualified to write a prescription of medical marijuana and only a pharmacy would be permitted to dispense it.

He said outside of medical use, there were significant scientific purposes as only two of the 500 compounds contained in the drug were researched in depth.

"Cannabis has over 500 compounds, but to date only a handful of those compounds have been researched. Who knows what gems are awaiting to be discovered in those 498 compounds.

"This is where the medicinal, therapeutic or scientific purposes come in – research trials, clinical trials."

Deyalsingh said while the parents of children suffering with seizures may be eager to try medicinal cannabis as part of their child's treatment, only two conditions – Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome – showed to respond to medical cannabis treatment.


"Deyalsingh on medical cannabis: It won’t be a free-for-all"

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