Christie backs marijuana move

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Deputy Chief Reporter

WHILE indicating support for the legal use of medical marijuana, former Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government must understand the implications of withholding the drug from those who really need it for various health challenges.

Mr Christie, who has an adult son with autism, expressed optimism that cannabis might become a viable legal solution to the issues the condition presents.

Asked if he would support any efforts by the Minnis administration to make marijuana available for medical use, the former Centreville MP said: “Clearly if in fact the research shows that it works for any kind of illness then there is absolutely no doubt that the people who are sick and who could be assisted by it deserve that kind of treatment. But without doubt I think everything we do has to be based (on research).”

“It’s something the region has been grappling with for a long time and we are faced with situations where states in America recognise the licence to grow marijuana so the Bahamas has to be very, very wise in looking at exactly what is taking place around the world.

“We know that the first step would be to understand the implications of not allowing patients to have access to medical marijuana if medical marijuana is able to be of assistance to them and that is something we should not allow to happen where people cannot have lawful access to it and it can be of assistance to them.”

His remarks follow Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ hinting support on Saturday for the medical and scientific use of the marijuana. However, Dr Minnis told the media at the time he did not want his personal views to supersede a widespread public education campaign.

Dr Minnis said the government will establish a committee to host town meetings and focus groups on the issue. He said once the public’s position is obtained, the matter will be brought to Parliament for debate and “the people” will make a determination on the way forward.

On Monday, Mr Christie said people with medical conditions that may be eased with marijuana are anxious for a solution.

“I saw where (Health Minister) Dr Sands indicated in the area of cancer research has indicated some degree of relief and most certainly there is commitment to usage,” the former prime minister said.

“So the fact of the matter is that to those of us who have family who are vulnerable because of illnesses they suffer from, all of us would want to have a solution to the challenges our family members face.

“In my particular case, I don’t know the extent to which they have been able to deal with autism but as you know I have a child who is autistic and we constantly look at the therapeutic interventions that have been made and research being made with a view to seeing whether there is something else that we could try that would give Adam a better chance.

“I am looking for any kind of relief or solution that can work for him and it’s something that we are watching very closely with full interest,” he said.

Yesterday, American news outlets reported that the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is adding 11 new conditions to the list of illnesses that can legally be treated by medical marijuana, including autism.

Other conditions qualified to be treated by medical marijuana in Michigan include Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Arthritis, OCD, chronic pain, and colitis.

In recent days, several prominent people have voiced support for medical marijuana.

Former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes told The Nassau Guardian last week he thinks it’s a “no brainer” to legalise cannabis for medical use. He suggested he also supported eventual recreational use becoming legal, once proper controls and education are in place.

Former Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour, in recovery from colon cancer, said medical marijuana, as well as conventional treatment, saved his life. He told this newspaper he frequently travelled to Florida for Marinol, a man-made form of cannabis, to restore his appetite, combat nausea and relieve pain.

Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis has also announced his party would appoint a review panel to make recommendations on the issue.

Recently, a Public Domain poll said 71 percent of 998 residents surveyed believed marijuana should be legalised for medicinal purposes, and all respondents ranked marijuana as the least harmful substance by comparison to tobacco, alcohol, and sugar, across the board.