Letters to the Editor

No certification needed for medical practitioners to prescribe ganja

Monday, November 13, 2017

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Dear Editor,

The Ministry of Health wishes to clarify an apparent misunderstanding within the public domain as to the legal requirements for prescribing ganja for medical or therapeutic purposes.

The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2015, provides, among other things, for the possession of ganja for medical or therapeutic purposes as prescribed or recommended in writing by a registered medical practitioner or other health practitioner approved by the Minister of Health. Accordingly, there is no requirement under the law requiring medical practitioners to undertake any training and/or certification in order to prescribe ganja for medical or therapeutic purposes. The only requirements are:

(i) in the case of a medical practitioner, that medical practitioner is registered, meaning registered with the Medical Council in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Act; and

(ii) in the case of other health practitioners, that such health practitioners are approved by the Minister of Health to prescribe ganja. The ministry appreciates that various statements that have been made over the last several months during the review and deliberations on this critical matter have given a contrary impression and therefore wishes to ensure greater clarity and understanding of the requirements.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the ministry is of the view that training with regard to prescribing ganja for medical and therapeutic purposes is desirable. Such training is desirable and recommended in light of the fact that this is a new area of practice for medical and health professionals, as well as in order to ensure that the prescribing of medical marijuana is done in keeping with relevant medical and public health standards. The ministry is further of the view that the issue of training on the subject matter should be guided by the Medical Council of Jamaica through its continuing medical education.

The ministry is focusing on developing the relevant policy guidelines in relation to the subject matter and the regulations which it is mandated to prescribe under the Act. In accordance with the policy of the Government of Jamaica, the ministry is committed to stakeholder consultations in respect of such guidelines and regulations.

The ministry further wishes to clarify that training courses recently conducted on the subject matter were undertaken by a private entity and were not done under the jurisdiction of the ministry.

Christopher Tufton

Minister of Health

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