Not using medical cannabis deemed insane’
A ten-year cancer survivor, who prefers to be identified only as patient X, supports the idea of cannabis decriminalisation in Bermuda.
Researching his cancer, which first announced itself with a haematoma that left him “ankle-deep in blood”, quickly became part of his daily routine.
“It scared the life out of me, but I put on a brave face, carried on with life, and then plunged into internet research,” the patient told The Royal Gazette.
“I had mental problems for the first couple of years. That isn’t unusual; many cancer patients get depressed.”
Teaching himself online offered new hopes. Among them were the promising applications of cannabis, as well as drugs derived from the plant.
However, the island’s failure to embrace one in particular — cannabidiol, which lacks the mind-altering qualities associated with cannabis — strikes patient X as “insane”.
Known as CBD, its medical potential ranges from the treatment of epilepsy and neurological complaints.
The extract now shows hope for anti-tumour and cancer applications. In December 2014, Bermuda’s legislature that approved three cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals, leaving cannabis itself off the table.
At present, medical marijuana is legal in 24 of the United States, subject to varying restrictions. Ohio appears poised to approve it next.
Bermuda’s policy, which Opposition MPs criticised as ducking the real issue, was limited to the anti-nausea drug Marinol, and Sativex, which is used to treat neuropathic pain and other symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. Cesamet, another pain reliever, was also authorised.
But to varying degrees, all three drugs come with side effects: the first two contain tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, and the same molecule on which Cesamet is based.
“CBD happens to be the non-hallucinogenic ingredient in cannabis,” said patient X, who travels to the United States to use it, in the form of a cream applied to the skin.
“Every state has made it absolutely, totally legal for medical purposes.
“But if I want to bring it into Bermuda, I have to go through a performance through my doctor and get it approved by the Government. I would like to continue with it here, and for me it makes sense to just get it completely cleared.”
According to Michael Dunkley, the Premier, six applications for CBD products had been approved as of last month.
The 2014 Act contains provisions for other derivatives to be temporarily cleared by the minister, on the advice of the chief medical officer.
Patient X, now about 60 years old and uninterested in recreational cannabis, said he supported the idea of decriminalisation.
While he has no cancer symptoms today, he experienced “panic all over again” after several worry-free years when his illness advanced.
Shrinking his tumours with the help of an aggressive treatment left him feeling “awful”, and he questioned the island’s reluctance to act faster on alternatives.
“The CBD component is effective for all sorts of things; against skin lesions, even against aching joints,” he said.
“For something that has no drug properties not to be easily available here is insane. I’m not an expert, but I’m informed. I don’t see why we can’t make the move.”