November 17, 2017
Physicians practicing in Belize have shown great concern on the effect decriminalizing of cannabis will have on the Belizean society; thus, the matter had been brought to the attention of the Executive of the Belize Medical and Dental Association, BMDA, with emphasis of formulating a consensus policy on cannabis.
Further to and continuing the work done by the Cayo Physicians Group, the BMDA has created, as agreed on November 9, 2017 Executive meeting, a “Committee on Cannabis” that consist of the following physicians: Baldomino Barboza, Jose Moguel, Atanacio F. Cobb, Lesbia Guerra, Maria Lucia Goncalvez, Ines Mendez-‐Moguel and legal consultant Lisa Shoman.
The BMDA’s policy on cannabis is herein defined. While the BMDA understands the reason behind decriminalizing the use of marijuana, as the leading Medical Association in Belize representing the medical profession the BMDA does not support nor endorse the recreational use of marijuana. This position is based on sound scientific research that has proven that recreational cannabis use is associated with serious adverse health effects. These include increased risk of psychosis, fatal motor vehicle accidents, dependency, as well as deficits in verbal learning, memory and attention. The use of cannabis before the age of 18 doubles the risk of psychotic disorder. The ominously growing availability of cannabis or its forms in foodstuffs such as sweets and “concentrates”, which have enormous appeal to children and adolescent, requires intensive vigilance and policing. This position on cannabis is shared by the large majority of leading National Medical Associations particularly those associated with the World Medical Association.
In view of the recent enacting of the Marijuana Decriminalization Bill, the BMDA in the interest of public health makes the following recommendations: That the Government of Belize consult the BMDA at the point at which any proposal for legislation or regulation to permit medical cannabis long before the matter goes to the House; GOB and National Drug Abuse Control Council set nationwide “drug courts”
to help place substance abusers into treatment rather than sending them into the prison system;
expand the availability of medication-‐assisted therapies; increase treatment capacity for those
substance abusers who need help; and make the life-‐saving opioid overdose antidote naloxone available
to first responders.