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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.