Local Doctors Approve Patients’ Use Of Marijuana

MORE than one-third of Jamaicans who use ganja as medicine informed their doctors about the practise, and half of the times the doctor approved the continued use of the drug for treatment.
This was disclosed yesterday by pollster Don Anderson, as he highlighted the findings of a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey carried out by his Market Research Services Limited and commissioned by local scientist Professor Henry Lowe’s Biotech R&D Institute and Pelican Publishers.
“This is an important piece of finding,” Anderson told the audience at the briefing held at Lowe’s Eden Gardens Wellness Resort & Spa on Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston.

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“There is use of marijuana for treatment of medical condition. One in every three persons who use ganja for some medical condition tell it to their doctor and, probably, in 50 per cent of those cases the doctor approved the treatment,” he stated.
Anderson said that 85 per cent of the persons interviewed in his islandwide poll believed “strongly” that medicinal products extracted from ganja should be made
commercially available.
“We are talking about the wide range of products that have been identified should be made available commercially, not just for home use. It should be commercially available,”
he said.
He added that it was also important to note that the majority of Jamaicans who knew the laws regulating the use of ganja believe that they should be revisited.
According to Anderson, 86 per cent of the persons interviewed felt that the Government should play a role in promulgating new regulations covering the use of the drug for medicinal purposes. He stated that 56 per cent of those interviewed saw good prospects for the use of ganja for medicinal purposes, while 15 per cent were more interested in the economic gains from expanded use. “The predominant factor is that they see it as a benefit for medical use,” he noted.
According to the poll, 57 per cent of all persons interviewed claimed to have used ganja at some time in the past; 55 per cent were in favour of relaxing the laws so that it is no longer a criminal offence to use ganja; the predominant use appeared to have been to smoke it, with 66 per cent claiming to have done so, while 61 per cent have used it as a drink; six per cent used it in food; six per cent as a balm; and five per cent to wash their hair.
Fieldwork for the survey was conducted during October and early November 2013 and involved interviews with approximately 500 persons aged 18 years and over in all
14 parishes.
Professor Lowe, who noted that the study was the first of its kind in Jamaica and which extended into the uses of herbs outside of marijuana, suggested that the results could provide significant and enlightening information on the uses of marijuana. He said, too, that it could also provide important information to aid policymakers in their decision-making on the subject.

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“The results could also help local scientists and doctors to understand how marijuana is being used locally, inform on research areas for the potential uses of medical marijuana and also provide information on possible products that can be developed from marijuana,”
Lowe said.
“It could have a multiplier effect by catalysing other industries, such as health and wellness tourism, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical industries, agriculture and even the pharmaceutical industry and ultimately transform Jamaica’s fledgling economy,” added Lowe, who is known for his cancer research and development of nutraceuticals using Jamaican plants.
Government MP for North East St Elizabeth, Raymond Pryce, who recently piloted a motion through the House of Representative seeking to have the use of small amounts of ganja decriminalised, chaired the function.
BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com
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