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Cannabis medicine bill passes in Senate

A bill in favour of the use of products containing cannabinoids was passed in the Senate yesterday morning.

The bill introduces three medical drugs — Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex — to those permitted for prescription purposes.

Progressive Labour Party's Senator Rabain said the bill did not go far enough, due to two of the products being synthetic and treating similar symptoms. He criticized the rejection of the inclusion of natural marijuana products such as cannabis oils in the Cannabinoid Pharmaceutical Products Act 2014.

Senator Rabain said: “This is a piecemeal piece of legislation that doesn't go far enough to cover the needs and wants of the Island as a whole.

“We have a bill that is looking to include Dronabinol (Marinol) - a man made form of cannabis used to treat appetite issues that cause weight loss for those with AIDS, and also vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy – both drugs are prescribed when other medications are not able to control the symptoms.

“We have Nabilon (Cesamet) another man-made form of cannabis used to treat nausea and vomiting – once again another drug that's only prescribed when other man-made drugs prove ineffective.

“Then we have Nabiximols – this is a drug that is derived from natural cannabis.”

Referring to a “phased approach to cannabis reform”, OBA Senator Michael Fahy said the products passed in the bill had been rigorously tested and that more research was needed into the safety of medical marijuana.

Senator Rabain said those who would benefit were the big pharmaceutical companies and those distributing the drugs.

The bill contains significant safeguards in the form of required consultation and ultimately advice from the Chief Medical Officer before any Minister can add other substances or products to the list of products or compounds available for medical use by prescription. Additionally the bill provides a definition of medical purposes for which the Minister can designate certain drugs under a designation order on the recommendation of the CMO.

Senator Rabain said: “By not specifying the medical conditions that qualify for possible medical prescriptions of medical cannabis, this is bill is in effect tying the hands of doctors – they have to now seek permission from the Chief Medical Officer who has to petition the Minsiter who then may add the drug to the list for use.”

Senator Jeff Baron, in his closing remarks, said that the passing of the legislation was an important first step of a much longer journey.

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Published December 15, 2014 at 11:11 am (Updated December 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm)

Cannabis medicine bill passes in Senate

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