Maltese Doctors Left In The Dark About Medical Cannabis
On 19 April 2018 the Medicines Authority and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Health organised the first networking meeting on Medicinal Cannabis and invited the participation of medical practitioners, pharmacists, wholesale dealers, stakeholders and members of the public. The event attracted a large number of practitioners so much so that some had to stand outside of the room. Releaf believes this is a positive development and is also reflective of an increased interest in the properties of medicinal cannabis and the newly enacted legislation.
Releaf closely listened to the presentation given by the speakers and agrees with the shared belief that the interest and the wellbeing of the patient should be placed at the fore front of every decision and medical assessment. Releaf believes that it is important to repeat this and to closely work and dialogue with medicinal cannabis patients, irrespective of their source of medicine. Only through open dialogue, evidence based scientific research and a strong commitment to listen to the patients can the country truly boast of a well designed medicinal cannabis market.
Intervening during the event, Releaf expressed concern at the lack of understanding between the Medicines Authority and the doctors present. On numerous occasions, doctors asked Prof. Seracin Inglot to provide them with evidence based research and to organize lectures on the properties of cannabis, how this should be administered and other important medical advice. Doctors and pharmacists present expressed concern for the current educational vacuum and highlighted the importance to obtain updated and constant feedback from the central medicines authority. Regrettably, Prof. Seracin Inglot warned doctors of the dangers of using cannabis and called on them to refrain from using it. He also informed doctors that in spite of the approval needed by the Medicines Authority for the patients to start using cannabis, the responsibility falls on the doctor. Prof. Seracin Inglot told members present to use common sense above everything else and to not trust cannabis. Without further explanation, how cannabis is dangerous, the properties of cannabis, different cannabis products and methods of administration, how different THC:CBD ratios relate to the mind and body and how to best take evidence based decisions, some of the doctors left disappointed whilst others outspokenly questioned the scope of the meeting. Releaf asked Prof. Seracin Inglot to listen to the doctors and pharmacists’ plea and quickly organize evidence based workshops and conferences for interested practitioners. Only through appropriate training and exchange of medical practices can patients hope that doctors will be appropriately trained and confident to use cannabis based medicine and provide relief to their chronic pain. As presented during the event, Israel organizes medicinal cannabis courses with the duration of six months for practitioners interested in the medicine. Releaf also noted that doctors and pharmacists were not even provided with a basic information booklet on cannabis and the confusion between the properties and effects of THC and CBD were clearly visible.
Releaf calls on practitioners to take a proactive approach and continue to seek evidence based knowledge and exchange valuable information on dosage, strains and patients feedback. The possibility to hold informative workshops and maintain close cooperation is imperative for a patient centred and functional medicinal cannabis market. Releaf invites local authorities to cooperate with doctors and leading experts from European and International countries and to include their participation in local events.
Whilst recognizing that this event was an important development, Releaf augurs that the Medicines Authority and the Superintend for Health recognize the important role of evidence based education and provide a better understanding of medicinal cannabis.