Healthcare professionals this week called on the authorities to hold a series of information sessions on medical cannabis, as they felt none the wiser about the treatment following a networking event.
The appeal was made at a meeting where Medicines Authority chairman Anthony Serracino Inglott cautioned doctors who were not knowledgeable enough about medical cannabis, to refuse to prescribe the treatment, or refer patients to specialised practitioners. Do not prescribe cannabis unless it is the very last resort, he urged.
The event, organised by the Medicines Authority and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Health following the legalisation of medical cannabis, was open to healthcare professionals and industry representatives.
I think that it started off with a bad reputation
The well-attended meeting got heated at one point with one of the attendees flagging contradictions – while prescription of medicinal cannabis was at the discretion of the doctors, the majority of practitioners did not know anything about it. He joined his colleagues in their appeal for more information sessions.
Addressing the event, Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Protection Deo Debattista said the law would be updated continuously, following feedback and ongoing research about the drug indications.
“There is scope for this type of medicine and I think that it started off with a bad reputation, unlike heroin, which started off as a medicinal drug (morphine and its derivatives) before it started being abused,” he said.
The law was not intended to open a window for cannabis to become recreational and, in fact, smoking cannabis for medicinal reasons was forbidden, Dr Debattista noted.
Unfortunately several of those currently using cannabinoids were importing the products from untrustworthy sources, risking not only inappropriate doses but also contamination.
The cannabis grown in Malta will have to definitely be rid of contaminants such as bacteria, heavy metals and pesticides, Dr Debattista said.