By INIGO ‘NAUGHTY’ ZENICAZELAYA
AS we continue to wait patiently as a nation, on the final word from the Marijuana Commission on the legalisation and decriminalisation of medicinal and recreational marijuana use in The Bahamas, the world continues to push forward in this regard both on the medical and legislative forefronts.
A new Israeli cannabis trial offered several positive signs for the use of cannabis extracts on children with autism.
The clinical trial, the results of which were published this month in the journal Molecular Autism, sought to assess the effects of “whole-plant cannabis extract” containing both CBD and THC at a 20:1 ratio and a placebo on a group of young children with autism.
For 12 weeks, 150 participants received either the extract or the placebo, which was then “followed by a 4-week washout and predetermined cross-over for another 12 weeks to further assess tolerability”.
In their conclusions, the teams of Israeli researchers said that they had “demonstrated for the first time in a placebo-controlled trial that cannabinoid treatment has the potential to decrease disruptive behaviours associated with [autism spectrum disorder], with acceptable tolerability.”
CANNABIS and AUTISM
Despite major inroads and groundbreaking discoveries medicinal marijuana is still being frowned upon by some in the medical community.
In 2019, Dr Eric Hollander, director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Programme and Anxiety and Depression Programme at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, announced a new clinical trial that would examine the effects of a cannabis compound or oils on patients with autism.
“In some of the animal models that are similar to autism, it was found that CBDV had important effects on social functioning, on decreasing seizures, on increasing cognitive function, and in reducing compulsive or repetitive. So for that reason, we wanted to apply that to autism,” Holder said.
The trial was labeled as the first large clinical study in the United States to test the effectiveness of medical marijuana on certain behaviours in children with autism spectrum disorder.
In states where medical cannabis has been legalised for treatment, policymakers have gone back and forth about adding autism to the list of qualifying conditions.
Ohio, is a good early example, having already added autism as a qualifying condition.
However, a state appointed board heard a number of public comments both in favour and against and opposed to the idea.
A group of children’s healthcare providers in Ohio strongly opposed the treatment for patients with autism.
“The inclusion of autism and anxiety as conditions has the potential to negatively impact the health and well being of thousands of children in Ohio,” said Sarah Kincaid of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.
While the battle rages on in Ohio, it’s another reason for the Bahamas and the Marijuana Commission to contemplate as we await a final decision on the legalization and decriminalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana.
SWEET HOME ALABAMA
Alabama Senator Tim Melson put up a bill that won easy passage out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday by an 8-3 margin.
Many of its (the bill) components if applied in The Bahamas would be beneficial to Bahamians on multiple levels.
Melson sought to establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, last year.
It would serve as a regulatory panel that would have overseen a patient registry system, while also issuing medical marijuana cards for patients and licenses for prospective dispensaries, among other duties.
Under Melson’s bill, qualifying conditions for a medical cannabis prescription would have included anxiety, panic disorder, autism, cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss or chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, and HIV/AIDS.
Melson, who is also a doctor, had proposed a similar medical marijuana bill in 2019 as well.
The proposed legislation passed out of the Judiciary Committee last year, before gaining approval by the full state Senate.
“There could have been more of an organised effort to slow it down, and I appreciate the body not doing that.”
“We tried to address some very serious things. I’m not taking this bill lightly. It’s a big step for Alabama, and there’s still a long way to go,” Melson said following the vote in the senate.
Sadly for Melson and other advocates, the bill ultimately went up in smoke, (pun intended) when the legislation was interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In January, Melson stated that this year’s proposal would be the same as last year’s.
“I’m not planning to change it.”
“I’m looking forward to getting it introduced and seeing what happens.”
Other recommendations by the panel included :
Ensuring that law enforcement agencies can continue to enforce the state’s drug laws.
To increase diversity in the ownership of medical cannabis businesses.
To ensure women, minorities, and veteran-owned businesses are not discriminated against and have equal access to business opportunities. The commission voted to recommend by a margin of 12-6.
Here at home the marijuana debate remains on slow burn, with many positive alternate cannabis related medicinal options for Bahamians hanging in the balance.
Hey Marijuana Commission hurry the heck up would ya! Puff, puff, pass… the bill already!