Frequently asked questions
Why is smoking cannabis for medical purposes not permitted?
There are two major concerns regarding smoking medicinal cannabis.
- Firstly, smoking is a particularly harmful way of taking medicinal cannabis, mainly because it poses comparable risks for bronchitis and lung cancer, as is the smoking of cigarettes. Smoking medicinal cannabis is not permitted by local or international Health authorities.
- Secondly, approved medicines used in Barbados are produced under strict conditions to ensure efficacy and safety. It is important that medical doctors know that medicines have been tested and are standardized by dose and therapeutic response. This means doctors can monitor the effects of the drug and doses can be adjusted according to a patient’s needs.
It is understood that smoked cannabis will not be prescribed in Barbados because smoked plant products will not satisfy governmental requirements.
- How will medicinal cannabis be accessed by pharmacies and doctors for prescription to patients?
The Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority grants licenses to facilitate the cultivation, processing, transport and dispensing of medicinal cannabis to patients. The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act, 2019 outlines that medicinal cannabis products can be prescribed by a medical practitioner. A Pharmacy with a retail distributor's license can dispense medicinal cannabis when presented by a patient with a prescription and a valid form of identification.
Currently, there are five legally-approved medicinal cannabis drugs, placed on the National Drug Formulary for specific indications, via approval from the Minister of Health and Wellness utilising Section 12 of the Drug Abuse (Control and Prevention) Act Cap 131.
Please speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information on accessing medicinal cannabis.
What are the short-term effects of cannabis use or THC based products?
Everyone's response to cannabis differs and can vary from one time to the next.
Like any other drug, cannabis can:
- Impair your ability to drive safely or operate heavy equipment
- It can cause drowsiness, slow reaction times, lower your ability to pay attention and impair coordination
- Affect your mental capacity
- Impair your concentration, memory and decision-making, and can impact your ability to perform well on the job or at school.
- Cause euphoria (a high) it can also cause anxiety or panic.
- In rare cases, cannabis can trigger a psychotic episode (not knowing what is real, experiencing paranoia, having disorganized thoughts and, in some cases, hallucinating).
   World Health Organization (WHO). The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use.
What are the long-term effects of cannabis use?
Using cannabis frequently (daily or almost daily) and over a long time (several months or years) can:
- Hurt your lungs and make it harder to breathe, if smoked
- Cannabis smoke may contain many of the same harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke
- Affect your mental health
- Frequent use of THC based products over a long time increases the risk of cannabis dependence
- Increased risk of developing psychotic disorders
- Early exposure of cannabis use during the adolescent years can impair brain development and functioning
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
 Weinstein, AM, Cohen, K. Synthetic and Non-synthetic Cannabinoid Drugs and Their Adverse Effects-A Review from Public Health Prospective. Frontiers in Public Health 2018; 6:1-8. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00162.
What are the effects of cannabis on pregnancy and breastfeeding?
Cannabis use is discouraged during pregnancy and during nursing. Substances in cannabis can transfer from the mother to child and can affect your unborn or newborn baby.
How will side effects be dealt with as they are noted by the medical community?
Like any other prescribed medication, the administration of prescribed medicinal cannabis will be under supervision and monitoring by your doctor so to minimise harm, or negative interact to a patient. Factors like medical history, allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, co-morbidities, other medications that a patient may be taking will all be taken into consideration along with regular checkups.