Dr. Kevin Bethel, Medical Director and Specialist in Family Medicine and Functional Medicine at the Freeport Family Medicine Center made a presentation on the cons of medical cannabis at the recently held 18th Annual Grand Bahama Medical and Dental Association (GBMDA) Conference.
“I’m going to explain in great detail what the endocannabinoid system is why we have it and what the different types of treatments are available on that,” he told the audience.
The human body has its own system for processing and even creating its own cannabinoids known as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is found throughout the brain and nervous system and is involved with things like appetite, pain modulation, digestion, reproduction, motor learning, stress, and memory.
He noted that this is a very hot topic right now. The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) Regional Commission on Marijuana was supposed to present the findings of a study it conducted on marijuana decriminalization in the region at the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting earlier this year. It was asked by CARICOM in 2014 to fully assess the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean.
The Regional Commission on Marijuana was established by the decision of the Twenty-fifth Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government, in March 2014 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Heads mandated the establishment of a Regional Commission to address the issues identified and any other deemed relevant in order to provide clear guidance to the Conference with regard to decisions to be taken.
The Commission, headed by Prof. Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, is composed of practitioners with expert knowledge in a variety of disciplines including medicine and allied health, health research, law enforcement, ethics, education, anthropology/sociology/ culture.
Their objectives include; conducting a rigorous enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean and to determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification of marijuana thereby making the drug more accessible for all types of usage including religious, recreational, medical and research purposes.
Bethel revealed that one of his main talking points was that The Bahamas is quickly becoming a cannabis importer.
“Because if it is legal in the United States, boats are going to be coming in the opposite direction for a couple reasons. A. because they are going to be growing a better quality of cannabis that we could ever grow in the bush as they say,” he said.
He added that this will negatively impact the economy because money will be flowing out.
Bethel also shared that there are various medical downsides to cannabis as well.
He informed that one of the main points is that there are many different types of cannabis and depending on the type of cannabis many of them contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which he stated is the mind-altering component in cannabis.
Other species have high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) which he claimed is usually medically beneficial.
CBD is found primarily in extractions from the hemp plant. It’s sold in gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. It can be consumed by smoking marijuana. It’s also available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more.
Bethel expressed that it is important for people to be informed on this topic and he also wanted to clarify some of the myths within medicine and the wider community about cannabis.
His colleague, Dr. R. Roopi, gave a presentation on the pros of cannabis.
Dr. Vincent Burton, President of the GBMDA also spoke to this daily, he stated that the conference went extremely well particularly as it relates to the presentations.
The conference featured an array of speakers from the local medical and dental community who gave presentations on various relevant topics on the event’s second day at the Pelican Bay Hotel.
“We had speakers coming in from Nassau, Grand Bahama, and international speakers from the
United States, we had speakers from Trinidad and so we have a mix of speakers from around the Caribbean and the world. We also have a mix of topics from surgery, medicine, cardiology…” he said.
He added that speakers also addressed topics in pediatric medicine and dentistry.
Burton also reflected on the theme, ‘Universal Health United to Fulfill the vision.’ He stated that the driving force behind the theme is that doctors, nurses and dentists collectively want to work together to provide better health care professionals.
“We need to unite as professionals around the table,” he said.
He furthered that universal health care also entails engaging stakeholders in the community like the church, schools, families, other organizations and individuals.
“It’s not enough for only doctors and nurses and dentists to make people healthy but the whole community has to engage to make people in the community healthy,” he said.
Universal health care “ or “universal coverage” refers to a system of allocating health care resources where everyone is covered for basic health care services and no one is denied care as long as he or she remain legal residents in the territory covered.
Universal Health includes hospitals, hospices, primary care facilities and other health care centers. It covers diagnostic services, medical procedures the provision of essential medication, and preventative services such as immunizations.
The GBMDA is the island’s leading body in Health Care Education and hosts this conference to share vital information on the island’s current state of health care.