MOH & MHA clarify position on cannabinoid pharmaceuticals
Drugs containing cannabinoids - chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant- must undergo rigorous scientific review by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) before being registered and supplied here.
In a joint statement yesterday to clarify the Government's position on these pharmaceutical products, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Health (MOH) said there are strict frameworks in place for the supply, prescription and dispensation of such drugs. They must be prescribed for the condition registered with the HSA and by a Singapore doctor.
Manufacturers of cannabinoid pharmaceuticals have to substantiate the safety, quality and efficacy of their products, based on scientific evidence from clinical studies and data on the manufacturing process.
The ministries said it is important to differentiate between products with cannabinoids and those that contain unprocessed or raw cannabis.
While there is some published research on the potential therapeutic uses of cannabinoids, such as managing seizures and epilepsy, MHA and MOH said there are no studies validating the claims that unprocessed or raw cannabis can be used to treat medical conditions.
A literature review conducted by experts from the Institute of Mental Health in 2015 that looked at more than 500 research papers confirmed the harmful and addictive nature of unprocessed or raw cannabis.
The experts concluded cannabis consumption is associated with irreversible brain damage, brain shrinkage and serious mental and psychiatric illnesses.
MHA and MOH said: "This supports our position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug. At the same time, we will continue to allow safe and controlled access to evidence-based medical treatment options."
In January last year, the National Research Foundation launched a Synthetic Cannabinoid Biology Programme to study the compounds and find ways to produce medicinal cannabinoids sustainably.
The ministries added: "The Government's stand on illicit drugs, including cannabis, is clear - they are harmful, addictive and can destroy lives, families and communities... Singapore must continue to keep our country drug-free to prevent harm to our population and our society."