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Medical cannabis to be promoted

Progressive change: members of the Bermuda Medicinal Cannabis Association at the medical conference in Florida

A group of doctors and pharmacists have joined forces to promote the use of medical cannabis.Now the Bermuda Medicinal Cannabis Association is to meet with the Government next month to offer its expertise as Bermuda prepares legislation to allow use of the drug for patient treatment.A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health confirmed yesterday a meeting with the BMCA, which will also include the Ministry of Legal Affairs, would be organised.Association member Kyjuan Brown, the medical director at Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre and a long-term campaigner for medical marijuana, said: “At Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre, we remain committed to engaging in local and international research and educational opportunities that will further enhance the care that we provide to our patients.”Dr Brown was speaking after a group of medical professionals attended the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association’s annual conference in Florida earlier this month. He said: “On behalf of NMAC and the many patients in Bermuda who can benefit from this evolving alternative medicine, I was pleased to join a conglomerate of local doctors in attending the AMMPA conference where we engaged with like-minded physicians from around the world who shared the latest evidence-based research on medicinal cannabis. “Since 2014, I have been advocating for patients to have access to medical cannabis, I look forward to the day when marijuana will become a legal treatment option.” The BMCA is headed by pharmacist Jennie Lightbourne and was set up to educate fellow professionals and the public on the benefits of medical cannabis.The group attended the US conference with Annabel Fountain, an endocrinologist, a specialist in glands, hormones and metabolism, and Cindy Morris, a doctor and pain management specialist at Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre.A spokesman said the delegation learnt that marijuana had potential benefits in a variety of conditions, from diabetes to post traumatic stress disorder.Dr Fountain said she was cautious about unintended consequences of marijuana use, especially the risk of psychosis, but that there were potential benefits for some diabetes patients. She added: “Areas of benefit that I’m excited about are the use of cannabis products to treat diabetic neuropathy, to assist in recovery after brain injury and to reduce dependence on opioids.“Bermuda has so many road injuries and stroke disease and we exceed the national quota of opioid medications for pain from the International Narcotics Control Board every year. For these indications, cannabis is established as a safe alternative.” Dr Morris said: “The incorporation of cannabis-related products paired with my knowledge of pain management of the nervous system answers many questions that traditional medicine has not answered.”Ms Benyak-Pitcher, a pharmacist and secretary of the BMCA, said she was interested in research that indicated cannabis could be used to treat a range of conditions including autism, brain injuries and strokes, chronic pain, anxiety, inflammatory bowel disease, as well as post traumatic stress disorder.She said: “I see medical cannabis as an alternative way to complement our traditional approach to ailments.” The American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association is the largest medical cannabis association for doctors in the world and was set up to give healthcare professionals information on the use of the drug as an alternative treatment. Delegates to the Florida conference included top doctors, scientists, and lawyers, including Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, and Hinanit Koltai, who represented the Israeli Government.David Burt, the Premier, said in 2018 that the cannabis cultivation for medical reasons was to be legalised and the first licences for its production would be issued this year.