Responding to concerns raised about the need for evidence based policy decision, in relation to warning persons against mixing marijuana with tobacco, Medical Director at Victoria Hospital (VH), Dr. Lisa Charles maintains that the issue is a cause for great concern and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dr. Charles said she is happy the issue is generating much needed discussion, stating that a 2009 publication by Dr. Tan of the University of British Columbia in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, as well the paper “Cannabis on your Lungs” published by the British Lung Foundation provides excellent examples on this issue.
She pointed out that at a recent conference held in Cuba and attended by lead emergency medicine physicians from the University of the West Indies (UWI) campuses in: Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad, there was agreement that the emergence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD in young individuals, smoking the mixture of tobacco and marijuana, was a cause for concern,” the doctor added.
One SNO reader however, said: “I appreciate that this is being done out of concern, and is directed to saving lives or at the very least, the quality of life. But people, please. Let’s be honest about this, and let us make policies that are guided by science and research.”
Director of the Saint Lucia-based Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute (CDARI) Dr Marcus Day is reported in the media as saying that Dr. Charles was not quite accurate in her statements. Day said when information is provided from a clinician, it is probably the worst case scenario.
The VH medical director has said based on her observation, young men and women in their 30’s with end stage lung disease, have been frequenting the hospital. The hospital also has a patient population of close to 15 – 20 people, who literally go to A&E either daily or weekly because their disease.
COPD is an extremely debilitating, progressive disease which directly affects the lungs. Patients with the disease are literally confined to a bed with oxygen tubes up their nostrils 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.