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Medical cannabis conference at UWI this Sunday

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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A conference that the organisers say is aimed at providing local health practitioners with an informative and comprehensive view on medical cannabis is scheduled for Sunday, April 15 at The University of the West Indies (UWI).

Titled 'Medical Cannabis: The Way Forward', the conference will be held at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Lecture Theatre 1 from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm.

Organisers are the Faculty of Medical Sciences and Medicanja Limited, the company founded by Jamaican scientist Dr Henry Lowe who is known worldwide for his anti-cancer research and the production of nutraceuticals using Jamaican plants, including marijuana.

“With the presence of experts from different fields of research and development, the event will present clinical and scientific perspectives, with a number of related topics, including clinical research and practices, ethics, case studies on the successful applications of medical cannabis as well as insight into the life of a medical cannabis patient,” a news release from the organisers said.

“The event caters especially to doctors, pharmacists and nurses as well as other health care professionals. Medical students and the general public with a special interest in the subject area are also invited,” the release added.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UWI Professor Archibald McDonald, who has been a leading advocate of medical cannabis, is scheduled to give the opening address, while the keynote speaker will be Dr John Hall, chairman of the Medical Council of Jamaica and first physician in the Caribbean to testify before the US Congress on the effects of cannabis on health.

“Our intention for this conference is to bring our local health care professionals up to speed on medical cannabis. Many are unaware of the scientific and clinical pros and cons,” the release quotes Dr Lowe.

“This conference is seeking to introduce persons to the science behind the cannabis plant and its product uses and applications to health care as a potential and effective treatment option.”

The conference will also feature the launch of the book Medical Cannabis: The Way Forward for Health Care Practitioners which is co-authored by Dr Lowe; Dr Lorenzo Gordon, vice-dean of the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences; Dr Tony Vendryes, author and expert in naturopathic medicine; Deborah Miran, former commissioner of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission; and Professor McDonald.

The book presents an introduction to medicinal cannabis, the plant and its various components as medicinal agents.

It also documents the plant's progress as a new and emerging medicine with a focus on the history, medical uses and the status of the herb as it relates to global legislation, economic possibilities and social attitudes.

While the book targets those in health care, persons with a genuine interest in medical cannabis are also welcomed readers, the organisers of the conference said.

“Jamaica is on the forefront of educating and certifying our professionals in the responsible management of medical cannabis for scientific and clinical applications. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Neuropsych Services has engaged in the training of doctors and pharmacists in medical cannabis with over 130 doctors trained so far,” the release quotes Dr Gordon.

Gordon, Vendryes and Miran are also presenters at the conference along with Dr Margaret Dingle Spence, consultant in oncology and palliative care; Dr Cameil Wilson-Clarke, lecturer in pharmacology; and Dr Shelly McFarlane, clinical trials expert.

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