Medicinal cannabis clinic to open in Jersey next month
JERSEY’s first medicinal cannabis clinic is due to open next month – and the team behind it is hoping to work with Islanders to aid research into the drug’s effectiveness.
The prescription of medicinal cannabis became legal in Jersey last year after the States approved a proposition lodged by Deputy Montfort Tadier in October 2018.
But GPs have been reluctant to prescribe it due to a lack of guidelines.
Medicann chief executive Matt Johnson said that he believed his new clinic would assist Island GPs in dealing with the ‘high demand’ for the drug as a medicine.
‘A lot of GPs are currently getting pressure to prescribe medicinal cannabis to their patients but are struggling to do so because there is a lack of guidelines and they are not clinically confident about doing so,’ he said. ‘What we want to do is take that pressure off them. The way we want it to work is for patients to be referred to us by GPs, like they might be referred to a cardiology clinic.
‘There are patients at the moment who are ordering medicinal cannabis prescriptions from the UK. By having a local clinic we will save them the time it takes in terms of travel and importation, as well as on cost.
‘Also, patients will have a local doctor to work with, so questions can be addressed in person or via our video link.’
Mr Johnson said that 100 import licences had already been issued for medicinal cannabis patients and he believed as many as 500 people may be interested in using the clinic.
He added that many potential patients had indicated to him that they would be interested in anonymously sharing their medical and treatment records to aid with research into the use of cannabis as a medicine.
The clinic is due to open next month at a premises in St Helier and will offer full consultancy and prescription services.
The chief physician is Dr Gina Schoeman, who is a specialist in pain and sedation.
Speaking on behalf of the Jersey Primary Care Body, Dr Matt Doyle said that medicinal cannabis could provide another avenue of treatment for Jersey patients but should be viewed as just another drug.
‘There is good guidance in place on medicinal cannabis usage and that is that treatment should be initiated by a consultant specialist in pain,’ he said.
‘But what we must remember is cannabis is just another drug. It’s just that people get terribly excited whenever you mention it, whereas they would not with other new drugs or treatments.
‘Cannabis is no better a treatment for pain relief than any other drug and at this time it is less well researched and understood than other drugs. It can have some harmful side effects but of course some people get on better with it than others and it can work well for them.
‘For doctors, we just view it is just another avenue for treatment.’
Health Minister Richard Renouf declined to comment on the opening of the new clinic.
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