The Times of Malta reports
Patients who need cannabis as treatment “have been forgotten”, and before discussing the recreational use of the plant, Malta should prioritise access to more medicinal cannabis preparations, the authorities are being urged.
“It is upsetting to be told that I can no longer access my treatment in Malta. The other options are leaving the island or considering assisted-suicide,” a woman who has suffered from fibromyalgia for 25 years told Times of Malta.
Her life, she says, changed “overnight” when she recently started using a hemp extract known as CBD oil, which she could at the time still obtain online or from local health food stores. But three months ago she was told that the oil is illegal.
Godfrey Farrugia: Patients need to be treated with different cannabis products.
Still, she continues to procure it and make use of it, because since her early 20s the 48-year-old Chanel (not her real name) has tried everything else under the sun, from prescribed painkillers to nutritional diets – but the symptoms either remained the same or worsened.
At one point she wanted to try the only cannabinoid licensed under the Medicines Act – Sativex – but was refused a prescription as this is intended only for Multiple Sclerosis patients.
Her doctor, Andrew Agius, explained that two cannabis plant components – CBD and THC – can be used to treat fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome, which Chanel also suffered from.
The family doctor, who is specialising in pain management, had first recommended CBD oil to a woman who was “reborn after 20 years and returned to work”. He then recommended it to some patients suffering from chronic pain, anxiety and minor metabolic abnormalities such as borderline diabetes.
But in May he had to tell his patients to go back to their prescribed pills as he was informed that CBD oil – which he said is legal elsewhere in the EU – was illegal in Malta.