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If you were living in Holland, as of last week Monday, your medical
doctor could legally write you a prescription for ganja (marijuana) if
you were suffering from the severe nausea or pain associated with
diseases such as cancer, Tourette's syndrome, AIDS or multiple sclerosis.

The Cannabis, with the active chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),
would be measured out by your pharmacist into nicely-labelled
containers and your health insurance would cover the cost.

Australia, Canada, Germany and several states in the United States
also allow the restricted use of medicinal marijuana or its active

Jamaica's law, as it currently stands, would not allow the medical
community to prescribe "the raw" ganja with the psychoactive
ingredient, THC, as is now allowed in Holland, even as an antiemetic
agent to control the severe nausea associated with disease such as
cancer. However, Dr. Albert Lockhart indicated that, Asmasol, an
anti-asthma product, developed by himself and research partner,
Professor Manley West, from an isolated Cannabis agent, can also be
used as an antiemetic.

"Asmasol also reduces vomiting and nausea in patients with cancer and
AIDS. When they take it, they vomit less and eat more and are able to
put on weight," he said.

This ganja-based product is available here without a

"If we get enough request, we can make one specifically for that
purpose (antiemetic purpose). We can produce it but we have to assess
the demand," Dr. Lockhart continued.

Those who have studied the pharmacology of Cannabis report that the
THC, is the most abundant of the 400 or so chemicals in 'the weed' and
accounts for the intoxicating effects when it is smoked (or taken as
'tea') and rapidly absorbed into the blood stream.

Dr. Lockhart indicated that the difference between the prescription
product now available in Holland (and in other countries) and those
available here, is that patients there have access to the active
ingredient, THC, in controlled - lower or higher - portions. The
products available in Jamaica and manufactured by the Lockhart and
West team are based on ganja's non-THC content.

"They are controlling the THC part and allowing people to buy ganja of
a certain THC content for medicinal purposes. We (West and Lockhart)
don't get involved in those discussions (about whether THC should be
used and the levels), the government determines that," Dr. Lockhart

Besides, Asmasol (used to treat asthma, coughs and colds), the West
and Lockhart team have also isolated an effective anti-glaucoma agent
from ganja bottled as a drug called Canasol; a more potent version
Cantimol has been developed (though not yet registered) and the team
is ready for clinical trial of a third active ingredient isolated from
ganja for the treatment of motion sickness.

Jamaica's laws notwithstanding, there doesn't appear to be a very
strong resistance among medical doctors here to prescribe ganja in a
therapeutic form and so long as the prescription doesn't stipulate,
"smoke the weed twice daily after meals".

"From my knowledge of the debate in the medical community, there is no
problem with having extracts from the ganja plant, that have gone
through some scientific rigours and found to be therapeutically sound,
to be prescribed in a therapeutic way," said Dr. Winston Davidson,
public health practitioner and past president of the Medical
Association of Jamaica.

He also pointed out that generally the medical community would have a
problem with the smoking of the herb or smoking in any form, since
this has been found to be harmful to health.

Furthermore, smoking the ganja will have no therapeutic function...
smoking ganja will have no impact on glaucoma," Dr. Davidson said.

Pubdate: Wed, 10 Sep 2003
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2003 The Gleaner Company Limited
Contact: feedback@jamaica-gleaner.com
Website: Jamaica Gleaner
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