The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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Former health minister advocates medical use of cannabis

Malta Independent Monday, 9 June 2014, 21:36 Last update: about 11 years ago

Former Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia argued in favour of using cannabis – specifically, synthetic derivatives of the drug – for medical purposes, insisting that its use could be beneficial to patients facing a number of health issues.

Dr Farrugia made his call during an adjournment speech this evening.

Seemingly aware of the possible controversy his argument may cause, the MP approached the topic cautiously, and made sure to point out that he was not, in any way, endorsing the recreational use of cannabis.

But he emphasised that patients stood to benefit from the effect of various active ingredients of cannabis, including its analgesic, anti-emetic, anti-spastic and appetite stimulating effects.

The former minister observed that research into the medical use of cannabis has been controversial, but added that studies have confirmed that it could help address chronic conditions such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and various cancers.

Dr Farrugia added that cannabis has proven to be beneficial when it comes to palliative care, pointing out that several countries across the world were providing it, or its derivatives, to terminal patients. He recalled that when he visited an oncology centre in Israel as a minister, he had observed, first-hand, the appropriate use of cannabis.

The MP also said that cannabis could be used to stimulate appetite among anorexia patients, address the side-effects – particularly nausea – of chemotherapy, and to help treat patients with HIV/AIDS.

Dr Farrugia noted that one could either utilise synthetic derivatives or preparations which are not meant for smoking: in Israel, for instance, cannabis butter was used in foods which were provided to patients. But the former minister said that he preferred the former and disagreed with the latter method, not least because the former was a bona-fide medical product which could be provided to patients through prescriptions.

He noted that such prescriptions should only be issued by consultants, who would prescribe the lowest-possible doses for a few days at a go.

Noting that a form of decriminalisation of drug possession was in the offing, Dr Farrugia called for an educational campaign to be launched, and also appealed to the Malta Medicines Authority to carry out a detailed analysis of the medical benefits of cannabis and its derivatives.

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