A Jersey medicinal cannabis clinic is now treating around 1,500 islanders – and its CEO says it has been “mind-blowing” to see the amount of drugs patients are no longer using.
MediCann CEO Gary Whipp spoke to Express about the clinic’s journey so far in Jersey, and its recent opening in Guernsey...
The arrival of MediCann to Guernsey heralds the next step in the medicinal cannabis market, a totally private enterprise that receives no financial help from the States.
“The government are paying nothing towards medicinal cannabis, they’re paying nothing towards the doctors, they’re paying nothing towards prescriptions – so this is a private enterprise business,” said the CEO of MediCann, Gary Whipp.
“We would like the government to be involved and we are lobbying for government to help, because they need to see the amount of potential harmful drugs that patients are coming off – it’s saving the states hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
Pictured: Mr Whipp hopes to work with local cultivators, following seven applications for cannabis cultivation this year.
The medicinal cannabis market has exploded in Jersey, with 1,500 patients prescribed through MediCann alone.
The chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society has welcomed the news, after campaigning for the safe and legal application of the drug.
"I am pleased to hear about the Medicann developments on Guernsey,” said Professor Barnes.
“Jersey is way ahead of the UK with regard to medical cannabis. I gather there are about 2000 people now prescribed on Jersey which is about 2% of the population. If that was the same in the UK we would have 1.3m people prescribed in the UK instead of 10,000!
“Well done Jersey and now well done to Guernsey for starting to catch up.”
Mr Whipp of MediCann said the process of bringing the dispensary to the island has been as easy in Guernsey as it was in Jersey.
“The islands are very similar – the chief pharmacists on both islands are very helpful, registering in Guernsey is not a difficult process.
“There are a couple of quirks in Guernsey that make it slightly more restrictive, having said that, the two chief pharmacists from Guernsey and Jersey are working together to make it almost seamless,” he said.
Pictured: Medicinal cannabis comes in many forms, including oils, vapes, and patches.
Guernsey may be “catching up” but the figures were high even before it could be prescribed and obtained on-island.
“I feel like that for such a small area there is a high demand for medicinal cannabis products,” said Head of Cannabis UK, Clare Holliday, on its use in the Bailiwick.
“If you’re caught with cannabis in the island there are much stricter laws, and it has forced genuine patients down the medical route.”
Pictured: Stonelakes will be dispensing prescriptions of medicinal cannabis.
The introduction of medicinal cannabis has been welcomed by many with genuine health problems and the resulting impact has surprised Mr Whipp.
“We’ve just done a survey on the patients in Jersey and what was mind-blowing was the amount of drugs that they have now come off – the opioids, the painkillers, all the drugs that the government are paying for,” he said.
Recently, Express spoke to Dr Anthony Ordman from Integro Medical Clinics Limited, who highlighted why some 'traditional' medicines could be deemed worse for the patient than medicinal cannabis.
“I spent most of my career using conventional medicines in the NHS pain clinics; these medicines are hopeless,” said Dr Ordman.
“Morphine is addictive, it only works for the first six weeks and then you’re hooked on it. Things like gabapentin only help one person in five, and people get hooked on it too; Ibuprofen rots their stomachs and kidneys, you can do a lot of harm to people.
“Because the chemicals derived from cannabis plants are so similar to chemicals found in the nervous system and in the immune system of human bodies, they seem to restore balance in a much more natural way,” he said.
Pictured: Mr Whipp said it was always his intention to bring a dispensary to Guernsey after its success in Jersey.
MediCann's Mr Whipp said the tide does seem to be turning, but the trepidation some have when considering prescribing it has inevitably caused delays.
“I think we’re finding exactly what happened in Jersey is happening in Guernsey. The interesting thing is that the minute we opened in Jersey an English company came and opened up.
“I’m not sure that’s going to happen in Guernsey, and I think it’s because they realise they don’t get the traction in Jersey – at the moment a lot of GPs here are reticent.”
He said MediCann continues to offer training and education on the drug, with the intention of avoiding the stereotype of a patient “rolling up a joint”.
“In Jersey, one of our doctors went through three months of education, speaking to our professors, going on the course and was still reticent,” said Mr Whipp.
“He’s now been with us eight or nine months and he’s a changed man, he now sees what a difference medicinal cannabis can make in someone’s life.”
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