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Experts urge mental health considerations ahead of final marijuana report

The minimum mandatory age to purchase and use recreational cannabis should be 26, as brain development continues up until 23 to 25, according to Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of Substance Abuse Services for the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre Dr. Kirk Christie.

“So if you’re introducing drugs like alcohol and marijuana at an early age, you can change the normal brain chemistry,” Christie said.

“Certainly, marijuana is a drug because it contains the THC and there are 108-plus such compounds present in the smoke.

“So, if one introduces marijuana earlier, especially in the teenage years or adolescent years, there can be brain changes.”

A preliminary report of the National Commission on Marijuana recommends recreational marijuana be permitted for adults over 21 and medicinal marijuana be permitted for adults over 18.

Christie also suggested banning synthetic marijuana.

“There are some chemical compounds that are now being sold or distributed that are synthetically made,” Christie said.

“…If you would’ve heard about Spice and K2, these synthetic cannabinoids, they are very dangerous drugs. They’re related to the THC, but they are created in what are called clandestine chemical labs.

“These chemicals are very dangerous, and when consumed they can cause sudden death.”

Christie also suggested that a medical committee be formed with adequate funding.

This committee would be tasked with retrieving global evidence-based research, dosing updates, best practices and THC effects.

Research would also be focused on medical marijuana and the short-term and long-term effects of recreational marijuana.

He added that the committee should report to the regulator on a biannual basis.

Psychiatrist Dr. David Allen meanwhile wants to see proper treatment facilities for young people with cannabis psychosis, regular psychosis and alcohol issues.

“That’s really important, and my point is a lot of the kids with these types of problems do not want to get help,” Allen said.

“So, it’s hard for a parent who has two kids with cannabis psychosis. Some are so burdened, and we have to help them.

“What happens is they go to Sandilands, they come out, but there’s very little structure in society. So, they do it again. So, we have find ways for us to treat that, and that takes time and money.”

He added that he understands the final report is not out as yet, but in the commission’s findings, he hopes that the issue of psychosis treatment is addressed as it is a real issue in Bahamian society.

Co-chair of the commission Quinn McCartney said the body hopes to finalize its report early this month.

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