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Pharmacist chief hits out on ‘catastrophic’ marijuana Bills

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association’s (BPA) president yesterday accused the Government of making “catastrophic changes” via the medical marijuana Bills that will cause the profession’s “downfall”.

Dr Marvin Smith, in a statement to Association members, blasted the Davis administration for what he asserted was its failure to properly consult the group and wider pharmaceutical industry on its plans to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

He argued that it has “chosen to ignore serious concerns that we raised” even though the reforms to the Pharmacy Act, via the Pharmacy (Amendment) Bill 2024, appear to give the sector much of what it wanted by placing all registered cannabis dispensaries under “the supervision” of licensed pharmacists.

The Bill, which has been tabled in the House of Assembly, stipulates: “No person shall, unless he is registered as a cannabis dispenser under the Health Professions Act (Chaper 233) make use of the title of ‘cannabis dispenser’.”

Then, through the insertion of a new section 10A into the existing Act, it mandates that pharmacists must have “supervision” over all cannabis dispensaries. “Every cannabis dispensary shall be under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist who shall be responsible for the oversight of the cannabis dispensary,” the Bill states.

“Specifically, this Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of a type of pharmacy to be known as a ‘cannabis dispensary’.” Dr Smith, though, appeared to object to the fact that a “cannabis dispenser” does not seemingly have to be a licensed, qualified pharmacist - with the latter simply operating in a supervisory role.

Arguing that this aspect of the Bill is a “first step” in seeking to replace the role pharmacists have in patient care, Dr Smith blasted: “These are the facts. As with the price control matter, the Government has once again insisted on making catastrophic changes to the pharmacy sector without consulting with the official body that represents our profession.

“It has chosen to ignore serious concerns that we raised, and instead has chosen to take counsel from persons who, for the most part, have extremely limited experience and even less direct investment into how our profession actually performs. The BPA will once again seek to intervene as best we can in the best interests of our members and the profession.

“To be clear, the replacement of direct pharmacist involvement in the dispensing of medical cannabis can only be seen as the first step in the attempt to replace one of the key roles of pharmacists in patient care. I know a small (but vocal) number of pharmacists believe that by ‘supervising cannabis dispensers’ they can make more money,” he continued.

“But they are only facilitating the death of their own profession. If under-trained staff can dispense a controlled substance without the pharmacist, how long will it be before the requirement for pharmacists to dispense all medications is removed? This short-sighted greed will be the downfall of the profession. Think about how ludicrous this really is…they want persons who will take a three-month course to dispense a controlled substance.”

Dr Smith told BPA members: “I urge each of you to think about the larger consequences, and do not allow for the allure of what seems like easy money to blind you. The best way for medical cannabis to be used in health care is for the professionals best equipped for healthcare (physicians, nurses and pharmacists) to specifically manage our patients who actually need the medication, in concert with all the other medications they will also be using.

“I will close with this…I’ve practiced for 25 years with one mantra. I treat every patient as if they were my own mother. Would you want your mother to be getting a controlled medication from an unqualified person off the street who has no knowledge of all the other medications she may be using? Well, every Bahamian is ‘our mother’ and we owe it to all of them to protect their health.”

Dr Smith asserted that the BPA was only invited to, and attended, one consultation session with the Government on the medical marijuana legislation and associated reforms impacting pharmacists, which took place last summer.

“The BPA received the draft from the Office of the Prime Minister in the fall and, after we held several consultations with membership, we forwarded a formal response to the Office of the Prime Minister in December 2023. That document was also forwarded to the BPA membership,” he added.

“Since December 2023, the BPA has not received any communication from the Government of the Bahamas concerning these Bills or our formal response and recommendations in that document. Last week I was informed that Government held meetings with hand-picked representatives about the Bills, but the BPA was excluded. I reached out to the president of the Medical Association and was informed that they also were excluded.”

Comments

DWW 1 month ago

So we need a doctor and an expensive pharmacist to to control the weed that grows in the backyard. next thing we will be legislating chamomile and lavender tea :)

realitycheck242 1 month ago

This new bill is accurate and is modeled after the cannabis bill in developed countries. These Pharmacist just want their hands in the marijuana cookie jar. They are trained in dispensing western medicine and not what mother earth has to offer for pain relief, seizures and mental issues. I dare say the raster's know more about the medicinal benefits of marijuana use and would make better distributors of marijuana than the Pharmacist. But we have to follow the money with this issue. The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association should sit small. They have cause the demise of many individuals with the poison they sell labeled as drugs.

carltonr61 1 month ago

The Cannabis Bill, yes, is well measured. After all, The AG Office along with Health and Wellness have foresight based on other jurisductions hindsight. We are late in the game considering that Cannabis has been popularly used here for 70 years. Further, again historically we find ourselves between the all of the greatest producers and consumers of Canada, USA, Jamaica and South America. EU & UK block nations also cultivate, export, and individual's are licensed to use. Cannabis us accepted as a civilized botanical bush medication as it was for thousands of years until USA prohibition agitation from the 1970s. If all goes well The Bahamas Government will control the show with the average Bahamian benefiting and no longer will criminal murderous gangs here have a billion dollar monopoly. Central government control over Cannabis was first used in Uruguay and it immediately cut gang murders down to nearly zero through legalization. If you travel to 40 USA states Medical Cannabis is legal along with about 28 states where Adult Use is also legal. All of Canada is legal. The Bahamas will now be able to regulate, somehow, according to WHO, 147 million Cannabis users, Bahamas included. Also, according to UNODC world drug report, all nations that legslized Cannabis already have a wide distribution of users so there was no major impact of sudden new users. Also, the UN Office found the cultural or indigenous national attitudes of varying peoples hindered the approach to a universal approach to Adolescent use which has negative individual and national economic consequences. Jamaica got a shock recently as Canada refused to import their 'Jamaica Pure'. The name Jamaica as a brand was expected to go international, as millions of the world tourists throughput the decades traveled there to smoke legally at Rastafarian Camps. cannabahamas@gmail.com, Licensed Bahamian Consultant & Certified Cannabis for Primary Care.

carltonr61 1 month ago

The Cannabis Commissions and Authorities of many states in USA are now having to reign in Alcohol Production Companies for producing and selling Cannabis infused alcoholic beverages as only the Cannabis Industry has a right to dispense Cannabis products as a Controlled Substance.

realitycheck242 1 month ago

Caritonr61 All of the facts you stated illustrates that the Bahamas is finally headed to first world status when it comes to Cannabis legislation and it also proves that the Pharmaceutical Association in those countries are not trying to put their hands in the cookie Jar in those countries. It is time for special interest in the Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association to realize that this country is going to move forward and their objections to the changes may not cause their downfall but the awakening of the masses to the uses of natural products such as Cannabis is more likely to cause it.

ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

I ran into a group of young men recently, non could have been older than 22. One made the announcement that he was getting off weed. The others laughed at him, one said "good luck!". I thought how sad, likely hooked between 10 and 15, they're all addicted and dont recognize it.

ExposedU2C 1 month ago

The sale of cannabis is being legislatively treated like the sale of liquor. And the coming explosion in its excessive recreational use will prove to be just as harmful and damaging to our society as alcoholism. The devastating consequences of excessive cannabis use, especially among young people, are already being experienced by many other societies that have shortsightedly legalized its recreational use..

sheeprunner12 1 month ago

More Bahamians smoke herb than cigarettes right now.

More Bahamians habitually drink hard rum than beer or wine.

Bahamians are already hooked on weed & rum for decades ....... This will only put the last nail in the coffin.

This Bill is designed to make money off tourists, Bahamians can get their dope anyhow.

ExposedU2C 1 month ago

A driver of a vehicle who is drunk from excessive drinking of beer, wine or liquor is statistically much more likely to cause an accident. Likewise, a driver of a vehicle who is high from excessive smoking of cannabis is statistically much more likely to cause an accident.

Insurance underwriters know these irrefutable facts that are for them, and their re-insurers, ample justification for jacking up auto and other vehicle insurance premiums to outrageously unaffordable levels. The bad policies of this corrupt and most incompetent Davis led PLP government are imposing alarming costs on the Bahamian people in ways that many do not fully appreciate. Of course the much greater toll on our domestic economy from excessive recreational use of cannabis will be a marked lowering of already low productivity levels.

Topdude 1 month ago

Dr. Smith is simply arguing that the Government should not only rethink legalizing this drug, they should rethink introducing a new sub-specialist in the pharmacy profession who will do more harm. That sub-speciality is ULDP. Unqualified Licensed Dope Pusher.

carltonr61 1 month ago

To qualify to the level of Certification at CAMH one would gave to be fluent in the Human Cannabinoid System, hiw it works to control mood memory and stress. You have to learn the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and body andchow THC and CBD impacts them. You also have to know the bio availability of the Cannabinoids in the body how long they are effective according to the mode if consumption and eventual breakdown. Just the tip.

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