The media world is high literally, on Cannabis sativa, the magical plant of the moment.
And they crave for more – their readers have an insatiable desire for the right dose. The wonder plant has been around for at least the last 2,000 years. New Zealand passed its bill in December 2018 to legalise the manufacturing, sale (domestic and export) and doctors prescribing medical cannabis to their patients. The Kiwis are in the process of developing their rules and standards around the 2018 legislation to assist them manage this new industry. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has advised her country will conduct a referendum in 2020 to get Kiwis to decide if they also want to legalise recreational cannabis use. Australia has fully legalized for medical purposes also, and in Victoria, a doctor can pre-scribe cannabis for anything he thinks a patient can benefit from it.
In Vanuatu the local media is abuzz, people with real and fake identities, from all walks of life are finding their voices and speaking out. Let us now take a step back and unpack some of the basic information on what makes the plant so special and popular, or vice versa.
The plant is known as Cannabis sativa or marijuana. The cannabis plant has at least 600 different cultivars with over 400 chemical constituents – the ones of interest are those which get people high after smoking and those which are taken to relieve or cure certain illnesses. The group of chemical compounds which get people high are called tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and although it has clearly documented medical benefits. Cannabidoil (CBD) is the other group responsible for treating a host of human diseases including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer and diabetes.
Phoenix Life Sciences International (PLSI, Phoenix Life), is a publicly listed company in America which has setup a local company registered to operate in Vanuatu. The company has made efforts to engage with government ministries and communities on the periphery of Port Vila, conducting free blood sugar and blood pressure screening and spreading the message about medical cannabis. Phoenix Life officials have held discussion on the same subject with most government Minsters and senior government officials to inform them of the company’s objectives in Vanuatu.
Phoenix Life is happy to announce it has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to further cement a long-lasting relationship with the Government and the people of Vanuatu. The partnerships include the government having a 10% share in the local public private partnership company, helping to build schools, free clinics, treating diabetic patients, employing at least 10,000 Ni-Vanuatu over the next 25 years, and provide housing for many of the company’s employees.
Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), namely heart and liver failure, endocrinal complications and diabetes contribute approximately 90 percent of deaths in Vanuatu. Approximately 80 percent of adult hospital visits are NCD and other NCD-related illnesses. Preliminary figures from the Phoenix Life screening shows 20 percent of those consulted are diabetic sufferers and 40 percent are prediabetic sufferers. Phoenix Life’s NCD screening, anthropometric measurements and others, are aiming to provide an in-depth knowledge on the risk factors surrounding NCDs and its associated complications. The resulting data from screenings stands to provide the biggest data source on NCD for the Government since independence in 1980. That data will no doubt provide evidence-based knowledge for policy formulation and adjustments to existing laws. One such is the Public Health laws first introduced to Parliament in 1982 and later amended so it is more relevant with current challenges to maintain a healthy population. NCD management alone is a huge financial cost to the Government, people’s health and human lives. Neither the government nor anyone else is exploring other ways managing the epidemic.
PLSI will emulate these screening programs in other countries to determine the underlying genetics variables leading to the global trends in the diabetic epidemic and its complications.
Phoenix Life noted a request from President Obed Moses Tallis, for wider consultation on this new industry. Phoenix Life is happy to continue to lead that work, on behalf of the many other companies waiting on the wings for a license.
Prime Minister Charlot Salwai summed things up very well in his parliamentary speech – ‘The company has stated its intents and is in its preparatory phase’, .. is working with relevant ministries and to roll out the Phoenix Life metabolic pills to diabetic patients.
These same Phoenix Metabolic pills will be produced and exported from Vanuatu under the agreements, to provide a solution not just for the Vanuatu diabetes epidemic, but throughout the Pacific and the world to the some 400 million plus diabetics the WHO talks about being at risk.
PLSI recognised there are no MoH Ethics Committee, or scientific body to assess the efficacy of some of the work currently being undertaken in Vanuatu, there are not sufficient analysis equipment in Vanuatu. That is why we have recruited Australian Universities and actively operating ethics committees experienced in plant medicines and who have access to the worldwide research around cannabis for medical use. Phoenix Life Sciences is here to partner with Government to introduce and set up these systems for Vanuatu under the ambit of the MoH-PLSI memorandum of understanding.
Phoenix Life rejects the term “experimental drug” used in the recent media. The capsules or pills are in fact pure plant extracts, purified, combined with coconut oil in an easy to take soft gel – the main component, CBD is now sold in thousands of retailers in the US, Australia, and the Netherlands. The WHO announced in 2018, CBD was Safe and Non-Addicted, while noting its use in many medical conditions, including diabetic neuropathic pain. In fact, the pill is already approved for use and the proposed trial is simply to monitor the results, so that Vanuatu can become a leader in the Pacific for treatment of diabetes. Similar trials are ongoing in Israel.
Cannabis, plant grown for thousands of years, including its active chemicals THC and CBD have been approved in some 47 countries for medical use, therefore in no way does prescribing them to diabetes sufferers puts the people of Vanuatu at risk.
Phoenix Life noted the speech of the Leader of Opposition, Ishmael Kalsakau, during the opening of the current parliament session, where he alluded to the different uses of the cannabis plant and Vanuatu stands to gain a lot from a hemp and medical cannabis industry once it is set up here. Phoenix Life has unpacked and intends to engage and help manage the lifestyle diseases, namely diabetes and cancer in Vanuatu.