Ministry of Health Establishes Medicinal Cannabis Unit

Photo: Adrian Walker Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, making his contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 5. At left is Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams.

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health has established a Medicinal Cannabis Unit (MCU) as part of measures to facilitate the medical marijuana industry’s development in Jamaica.
  • This was disclosed in a Ministry Paper tabled by Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in the House of Representatives on June 5.
  • The Ministry Paper informed that permits for locally manufactured products must be obtained from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and Pharmacy Council.

The Ministry of Health has established a Medicinal Cannabis Unit (MCU) as part of measures to facilitate the medical marijuana industry’s development in Jamaica.

This was disclosed in a Ministry Paper tabled by Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in the House of Representatives on June 5.

To date, the MCU has registered approximately 61 medicinal cannabis products, manufactured locally and overseas

The Ministry Paper informed that permits for locally manufactured products must be obtained from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and Pharmacy Council.

It added that without the permits, companies supplying registered products have no choice but to import these for local distribution.

“Import permits, granted by the MCU, and distribution licences will be required for companies to import drugs produced overseas. Distribution licences are obtained from the Ministry of Health and Pharmacy Council. This has been a hindrance in the local production and availability of these products for use by patients,” the Ministry Paper stated.

Though not mandatory, the Ministry strongly recommends training in the area of medicinal cannabis for all persons involved in providing these products for patients. Training can be done locally, overseas, face-to-face or online.

“A registry of trained persons is kept at the Ministry. To date, 137 persons have been trained in the use of medicinal cannabis, which include physicians, pharmacists and researchers,” the document said.

Since July 2017, the MCU has done or facilitated the following activities: the registration of 61 medicinal cannabis products and five medicinal cannabis applicators (devices); and providing two local manufacturing entities with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification for producing medicinal cannabis products.

Additionally, more than 30 travel permits were awarded to tourists/visitors/returning residents to bring in prescription products not available locally; and five permits have been granted to local residents to use medicinal cannabis as recommended by their physicians.

“These patients have also been facilitated with importation permits for their prescription items due to local unavailability. Draft Ethical Guidelines for Medicinal Cannabis Research have been completed by a local consultant to facilitate local clinical trials involving medicinal cannabis,” the Ministry Paper informed.

Meanwhile, the document noted that a public education strategy is urgently required to address the implications of changes in the treatment of cannabis for various groups in the society, particularly youth, as well as to address the wide societal perception that marijuana is a safe drug.

It noted that all components of the programme should emphasise prevention of use by the vulnerable – children, pregnant mothers, and persons living with or predisposed to mental illness – among other key groups.

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