14 February 2017
The Gibraltar Chronicle reports
Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon will move a motion calling on Parliament to declare that doctors within the GHA should be free to prescribe medical cannabis ‘immediately and without delay’.
This follows a recent Viewpoint debate in which the Director of Public Health, Dr Vijay Kumar, called for legal clarification for doctors prescribing licensed cannabis medicines, as he revealed that the GHA has on two occasions imported such drugs for patients.
The debate itself follows a GBC poll which revealed that 85% of those surveyed were in favour of the GHA introducing cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Mrs Hassan Nahon’s motion notes that the GHA already prescribes opiates and other sedative drugs such as Diazepam and Diamorphine and states that there are a great number of patients in Gibraltar who suffer from ailments which could be treated successfully with cannabis.
She further flags that at present the Government has provided Sativex in very limited cases but not widely available to sufferers and emphasised the need for a comprehensive cannabis program.
During the course of the debate Samantha Sacramento, Minister for Drugs, revealed that the GHA already prescribes licensed cannabis medicines for specific ailments in very restricted medical conditions.
In such situations, she explained, there are very strict guidelines that are adhered to in order to ensure that the system is not abused.
“On the question of whether we are in favour of cannabis for medical use it is not general cannabis, we are not talking about marijuana, for example to alleviate pain it has to be medical derivatives,” Ms Sacramento clarified.
Asked by host Jonathan Scott what is currently on offer by way of cannabis derivatives at the GHA, Dr Kumar said there were three specific areas; patients undergoing chemotherapy, chronic pain and MS sufferers, two of which have their own licensed products.
These are licensed products available from the British National Pharmacy? And therefore can be prescribed by doctors.
“The legal situation is such that I’m not quite sure whether if my doctors prescribing these drugs would be acting legally,” he said.
“I am not a lawyer so I would expect the legal profession and the government to help us through this process to make sure our doctors can prescribe these drugs.”
He added that the drugs in question are legal, clinically effective and only used for specific medical conditions.
“For a couple of patients we have imported cannabis products in the past and that is the reason I want to find out whether we are acting legally because my doctors want to treat patients but they want to do it legally,” Dr Kumar said.
“Whilst we have done it in the past in order to help patients through their difficulties, I want to have very clear assistance on that,” he added.
Doctors, he said, are concerned that merely supplying it to a patient or the patient possessing the drug would effectively criminalise this particular activity.