Registration for Medicinal Cannabis Access Licenses Commences in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Academic Sciences of Puerto Rico (ASPR) stressed the importance of broadening the knowledge about and functions of medicinal cannabis to treat chronic health symptoms and diseases while it promoted the beginning of registration to purchase and use the plant on the island. Distribution of licenses and regulation by the Health Department for legal access to medicinal cannabis will take place starting Nov. 15.
The registration process, held Wednesday during a Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust conference in the former Oso Blanco Penitentiary in Río Piedras, requires an identification card (ID) and filling out a prequalification form, along with providing medical evidence of history with a chronic health condition and a notarized document in order to gain certification that permits the purchase and use of medicinal cannabis. Once the patient is certified, a cannabis specialist within the Cannabis Doctors Puerto Rico network can treat the patient accordingly.
“There are studies that say that you cannot take too much cannabis nor too little because it won’t be that effective or reach a middle ground,” former Puerto Rico Health Secretary Johnny Rullán said. “Through our network, Cannabis Doctor Puerto Rico, we will sit with [the patient’s] health record, ask questions and evaluate the effectiveness of the formula given to the patient to see if it treats their symptom or not so we can improve the application in the future,” he added.
The Cannabis Doctors Puerto Rico network of more than 200 certified doctors will treat patients with an approved medical history and physical exam afflicted by such conditions and symptoms as chronic pain, anorexia, anxiety/stress disorder, persistent muscular spasms, cachexia, migraine, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, among other ailments that qualify for medicinal cannabis consumption.
“We will be working with evidence, monitoring patients to see what fits with what. We need to respect this plant and work with it,” family medicine specialist Jaime Claudio said. “One of our goals is that the patient starts with a small therapeutic dose and slowly make use of it in order to avoid adverse side effects and to maximize therapeutic effects,” he noted.
Contrary to marijuana obtained illegally, a certified cannabis specialist will prescribe patients a formula— based on clinical symptoms—with an unadulterated mixture of 1 milligram (mg) to 5 mg of the main psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the anti-inflammatory cannabidiol (CBD), which will combat the common disorientation and sluggishness experienced when cannabis is smoked, thus controlling the sensation of being “high.”
Regulations to be constituted by the Health Department include that the plant must be grown on Puerto Rican soil and tracked from cultivation until arrival at dispensaries.
The cannabis may only be consumed using a vaporizer, a device that extracts the therapeutic ingredients at a lower temperature than by burning it. Tinctures, a concentrated form of cannabis in an alcohol solution that can be taken under the tongue or mixed into water or other beverages, may also be prescribed.
Patients ages 21 and older may endure side effects such as tachycardia, anxiety and somnolence upon gradual doses.
Cannabis Doctors Puerto Rico estimates a monthly cost, in cash, of $600 to $1,500 for medicinal cannabis, with an average of $1,000 a month for patients with chronic diseases. Rullán also noted that doctors will treat with “compassion” those patients who have difficulty paying for the cannabis due to the current lack of direct health plan coverage or subsidiary cost assistance and approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
“The most important thing for Academic Sciences Puerto Rico is that these 200 doctors within the network maintain and give [the government] a reliable database that indicates what the adequate dose is for each symptom or condition, and that can [provide information] that can eliminate all of these expensive [medicines] that are not being used [by the patient],” Rullán said regarding the continuation of cannabis investigation to reduce medical costs for patients and dependency on additional healthcare products.
“We won’t only be working with the cannabis plant, but stimulants as well that can increase the [effectiveness] of the internal cannabinoids such as yoga and relaxation…,” Claudio said.
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