Seychelles: Cannabis Debate in Seychelles Continues, Advocates for Legalisation Vocally Campaign

The term “medical cannabis” is another misconception fed to the public as well as the plant being a gateway drug, said the chairperson of the Seychelles Kanabis Association (SKA), Nelson Esparon.

Recently the association went live on Pure 90.7 local radio station to provide educational information on cannabis, which is considered an illegal drug for recreational use under the law, and also held an exhibition at the Pure Garden at Le Chantier in the capital Victoria.

Esparon told SNA that there is a need to dispel misconceptions that surround the recreational and medical use of cannabis.

“When the term “medical cannabis” is used, there’s nothing that the physician or any organisation has done to the cannabis that all of a sudden makes it safe and ok to use if you have an illness but not ok if being used for recreational [purposes],” said Esparon.

He explained that “if it is so dangerous for recreational users, I don’t think by just labelling it medical cannabis makes it safer and ok to use if you have an illness. This is one of those absurd misconceptions that I hope we were able to dispel at the event.”

Uses and dangers

According to the UK-based Medical News Today website, cannabis is a plant of which several parts are used for recreational and medicinal purposes. It can have a pleasurable effect and may soothe the symptoms of various conditions, such as anxiety and chronic pain. It can also help with nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy treatment, sleeping problems and low appetite.

The plant contains active ingredients known as cannabinoids and the most abundant ones are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

However, in high doses, THCs can induce temporary schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, delusions, anxiety and hallucinations, and worsen other mental health problems.

According to Seychelles’ Ministry of Health statement on September 22, 2022, “Cannabis-use was the highest cause of admission (19%) to the Psychiatric Ward in 2021…Cannabis remains a known risk factor for mental health problems.”

Meanwhile, in February 2020, amendments made to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MODA) made it lawful for people in Seychelles to access cannabidiol-based (CBD) products for medical purposes.

This came after Seychelles’ Constitutional Court ordered the government, in June 2019, to make regulations for the medical use of cannabis, ruling in favour of a patient who uses the drug to help with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The court in Seychelles has acknowledged the benefits of cannabis and ordered the government to enact laws and regulations to give cannabis access to those qualified to use it as a medicine and this has not happened. The law continues to marginalise everyone who wants to use cannabis, even those that need this natural plant for their illnesses and in many cases to save their lives,” said Esparon.