Jersey has become the first place in Britain to agree to let GPs prescribe medicinal cannabis to their patients, following a decade-long campaign by a local politician.
The change will be introduced in February after politicians approved the proposals after a debate yesterday.
They were brought forward by St. Brelade Deputy Montfort Tadier, a long-standing supporter of relaxing the law to allow islanders to use cannabis to alleviate pain, which he said would be of particular benefit to multiple sclerosis and cancer sufferers.
Rather than islanders being able to get it directly from their GP, current rules mean that islanders need to get a referral from a hospital consultant, which may involve a waiting list.
Pictured: Deputy Montfort Tadier, a longstanding medicinal cannabis campaigner, brought the proposals to the States Assembly.
But Deputy Tadier argued that this process could be “long and arduous” for patients and needed to be changed so that all doctors, rather than just a small number of hospital specialists, could prescribe medicinal cannabis.
His proposals were backed by UK expert Professor Michael Barnes, who described Deputy Tadier’s plans as having “great merit”, with the potential to “assist many people in Jersey and improve their quality of life considerably” in an open letter to all politicians.
“My concern for the UK and for Jersey is that prescription is allowed only by doctors on the specialist register. GPs are excluded… I cannot see a logic in restricting prescription to hospital consultants which narrows the pool of expertise, particularly in Jersey. I suggest that some interested doctors are encouraged to train in cannabis medicine and then are able to prescribe, usually in a shared care arrangement with the consultant and multidisciplinary team and GP,” he wrote.
Yesterday’s debate saw a number of speeches from politicians speaking in favour of the legislation.
Ten years of persistence and tenacity by @DeputyTadier . Hopefully within the foreseeable future a large number of Jersey people in chronic pain will have a chance to live a better quality of life! https://t.co/I7OFo0pTpy— Deputy Rowland Huelin (@ChooseRowland) November 6, 2018
Deputy Rowland Huelin highlighted the plight of two of his St. Peter constituents.
Through the Deputy, ‘Dan’, who was said to be on a cocktail of “powerful drugs” to treat numerous debilitating conditions, pleaded for an alternative to remove his dependency on the strong medicines. “‘Grant me something to improve my life’,” Deputy Huelin quoted.
He also shared the story of ‘Edward’, who suffers from chronic cluster headaches, which were said to be so severe that he had considered suicide.
Deputy Huelin was among the first politicians to congratulate Deputy Tadier after his plans were passed.
The States have agreed that medical professional should be able to prescribe cannabis. The Minister for Health and Social Services has been asked by the States to bring changes to the law to make this possible @DeputyTadier #StatesAssembly pic.twitter.com/myMqh09sZW— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) November 6, 2018
“Ten years of persistence and tenacity by Deputy Tadier. Hopefully within the foreseeable future a large number of Jersey people in chronic pain will have a chance to live a better quality of life!” he wrote on Twitter.
Senator Tracey Vallois added: “Such a victory today and as someone with a chronic illness believe this is a positive move. Well done.”
Speaking after the vote, Deputy Tadier said that this was a “watershed moment” for Jersey.
The Minister for Health and Social Services will now have to bring changes to the law to give effect to yesterday’s vote, which will see Jersey become the first place in the British Isles to introduce such a change.
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