Substance use is becoming more and more normalised, where society’s approach towards drug use is changing quite fast. This abruptness by which societal change takes place does not always ripple down into properly informed individuals. The use of medicinal cannabis has been a controversial topic which raises a lot of questions and concerns.
To help increase awareness and clarify some of the misconceptions on the 24th September an online lecture was held by the OASI Foundation, entitled ‘Medical Cannabis… Myth or Miracle? Dr. Aloisia Camillleri, an addiction consultant psychiatrist was the main speaker and this lecture was held in collaboration with the Malta Association for Social Workers and the Malta Chamber of Psychologists. The lecture was well attended, with a total of forty-nine participants, all hailing from different professions, mostly relating to social sciences.
Mr. Noel Xerri, OASI Chief Executive introduced the subject, followed by Ms Gail Debono, a warranted forensic psychologist, representing the Malta Chamber of Psychologists. Ms Debono spoke about the lack of information regarding medical cannabis, and quoted research which expressed how a large number of professionals require more information in their curriculum as learning professionals. Ms. Kerry Hermitage, a current affairs & PR officer represented the Malta Association for Social Workers, followed Ms Debono’s message, remarking that the issue of medicinal cannabis needs to be evidence based and similar lectures of discussion are essential to help professionals expand their knowledge. She concluded that we need to view issues from a holistic perspective and that it is important that people across the board are all on the same page with regards to information on medicinal cannabis.
Dr Camilleri, the main speaker mentioned that the Maltese Association of Psychiatry are in favour of medical cannabis, only when these is scientific evidence that is beneficial for particular conditions. Conditions that have been backed by research, where medicinal cannabis proved indeed helpful are some types of epilepsy in children, some cancer patients, where medicinal cannabis helped with nausea and lack of appetite, and in some cases of chronic pain. Dr Camilleri remarked that other conditions are only backed with little or no research for one to be able to justify the benefits of medical cannabis. Currently, 1,900 people are prescribed medicinal cannabis in Malta.
Dr Camilleri also insisted that medicinal cannabis can be detrimental in some mental health conditions like ADHD, bipolar disorder and depression.
The OASI Foundation would like to thank all speakers, entities and participants for their participation and contribution.