Global Report on Medical Marijuana: Puerto Rico, Ireland, Israel, UK, Nigeria, New Zealand

In Feature Stories, Global by Brett Wilkins

In the first edition of a regular feature for The Medical Marijuana Review, we present a round-up of global stories on medical marijuana. These headlines have been attracting attention in August and September 2013.

Learn about Puerto Rico’s med-cannabis push, how Nigerian researchers discovered marijuana’s health benefits for prostate cancer sufferers, and why New Zealand activists are urging their government to recognize the efficacy of medical marijuana.

PUERTO RICO:

Lawmakers on the Caribbean island announced they would begin debating a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the U.S. territory. The measure would establish a system for the legal production, distribution and regulation of medical marijuana, and would classify which health conditions would qualify for cannabis treatment. The bill would also permit Puerto Rico’s health department to allow certain patients to grow their own medicine if they can’t afford to purchase it from authorized clinics or if they lived too far from those clinics.

THE UK:

The activist group Berkshire Cannabis Community held a Reading ‘protest picnic’ attended by hundreds of medical marijuana advocates at King’s Meadow on September 7. “Cannabis is a medicine for millions of people, and people with serious health conditions should be allowed to use cannabis to treat it if they so choose,” BCC said on its Facebook page.

IRELAND:

Doctors will be permitted to prescribe medical marijuana under new regulations which will likely go into effect later this year, the Irish Times recently reported. Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White announced he plans to “amend the regulations to allow a newly authorized medicinal product containing cannabis extract to be prescribed, supplied and used by patients.” That product, nabiximols (marketed under the brand name Sativex), has already been approved for use in numerous other European Union countries, as well as in Canada, Iceland and New Zealand.

ISRAEL:

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the world-renowned 82-year-old Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor who, in 1964, became the first person to ever synthesize tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, was profiled in a Global Post article. The profile was part of a series titled “World Wide Weed.” Global Post also published an article on Israel’s embrace of the ‘miracle’ of medical marijuana.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam  of Israel

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of Israel

NIGERIA:

The Guardian Nigeria reported marijuana may be an effective treatment for prostate cancer. Researchers in Nigeria and India have determined that medical marijuana acts as an analgesic on bone pain, improving a patient’s quality of life and reducing dependence on highly addictive opioids. “Cannabis sativa is erroneously believed to cause deleterious health problems among other controversies. However, studies have shown that this plant, apart from being regarded as one of the five sacred crops, has a lot of medical, recreational, commercial and social uses,” Dr. G.O. Aiyenigbara of Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba wrote. “Evidence has also shown that marijuana is useful in the control and management of chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, asthma, glaucoma, cachexia, hypertension, depression, etc. Nevertheless, further research is required to make this wonderful plant more useful to humanity.”

NEW ZEALAND:

The Parliamentary Health Select Committee has responded to a petition from more than 2,700 medical marijuana patients and advocates by convening a hearing on the health benefits of cannabis. Activists, who were incensed by New Zealand government’s decision to ignore a 2012 Law Commission recommendation to initiate clinical trials of raw cannabis, welcomed the move. “It is a matter of some urgency that patients with chronic or debilitating illnesses are able to access medical marijuana immediately,” Julian Crawford of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) said.

Brett Wilkins

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Wilkins is the editor of Moral Low Ground and a regular contributor at Digital Journal and Yahoo! News. He lives in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter at @MoralLowGround