Michael Dunkley said: Alan Gordon “and others interested in this issue already know what needs to be done to secure the medical use of marijuana.”
Michael Dunkley said: Alan Gordon “and others interested in this issue already know what needs to be done to secure the medical use of marijuana.”

The minister of national security has labelled a campaign to make medical marijuana available to cancer patients on the island as misleading and inaccurate, saying no Bermudian medical doctor has requested a permit to prescribe cannabis to date.

Michael Dunkley’s comments come about a week after a petition created by Alan Gordon, a local activist, sought to have the minister allow for the emergency medical cannabis permits for cancer patients in cases where the doctor recommends it.

Dunkley, however, batted away Gordon’s argument.

“Bermuda’s laws already make provision for the properly regulated, medical use of controlled drugs,” he said through a statement. “Mr. Gordon’s argument is not with me as the Minister or with the government.

“He and others interested in this issue already know what needs to be done to secure the medical use of marijuana and the current petition simply cannot achieve the result they want.” 

Gordon says that section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 allows the minister to make case-by-case exceptions to the general ban on cannabis. He says that 900 published studies prove that cannabis can have “anti-cancer” properties.

Gordon says it is within the minister’s power to issue medical marijuana permits “right now.”

He says he’s exchanged e-mails with Mr Dunkley about  the issue. His impression is that the minister is adamant that Bermuda cannot produce cannabis as a crop. Gordon says shipping the drug, even for medical uses, from overseas becomes problematic in part because of international law.

Mr Dunkley, however, says the law allows a medical practitioner such as a doctor or a pharmacist, to apply for medical use “of any controlled drug.”

Such an application, he said, would be “considered on its merits and I will be guided by the letter and spirit of the law. To date, no practitioner has made such an application.”

Mr Gordon, who says such medical marijuana permits would help two of his friends that have recurring cancers that conventional treatments have failed to quell, is disappointed his initiative has not garnered more support.

As of 5:30 Thursday evening, more than 480 people had lent their names to his proposal. He had hoped the number would be higher.

A dog’s life

“I’m sad. Last month a petition to save a dog’s life got something like 2,000 signatures in two days. And that’s a dog. We’re talking about people. People who are suffering from cancer.”

Mr Gordon attributes the lack of support to people worrying about a political backlash and a healthy skepticism that the drug could be a valid treatment for cancer.

“People are nervous,” said Gordon, who says he does legal research on a freelance basis. “There’s a long history here of people being outspoken on this issue not being treated very nicely by prior governments. I don’t think people need to fear that anymore. Also, I think people are skeptical that it can save lives or any change can come from it.”