July 30, 2021

Cayman Islands cannabis oil legislation changes on track

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GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands – The Cayman Islands Government is pushing on in its efforts to legalise the importation and dispensing of cannabis oil for medical use but acknowledges that questions loom about how it would be sourced and dispensed.

Proposed legislation will be ready for debate when the Legislative Assembly reconvenes in late September or early October.

Cabinet has approved the most recent versions of amendments to the Customs Law, the Misuse of Drugs Law and Pharmacy Regulations, which will soon be published, and ready for debate in the Legislative Assembly. A multi-sectoral stakeholder committee has also reviewed the proposed Bills as part of the policy development process.

“We have moved swiftly from a policy decision in May to being able to publish the bills shortly and then taking them to the next meeting of the House,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “But there are still real and serious practical hurdles to obtaining and importing this drug because it remains illegal in many jurisdictions, including nearby Jamaica.”

With the passage of this law registered medical importers will be allowed to legally import cannabis oil, doctors will be able to prescribe and pharmacists will be able dispense the drug.

However, potential challenges remain as there is no agreed medical body of evidence that cannabis oil is curative for serious diseases such as cancer. There are also no agreed prescribed levels of the drug that can be used to treat such diseases.

It remains for local doctors and pharmacists to use their own medical experience, judgement and research on how best to prescribe and dispense cannabis oil.

Also given its continued illegality in both the United States and Jamaica, there are concerns around how cannabis oil would be sourced. On Thursday the Drug Enforcement Agency in the United States denied a bid to reconsider how it treats marijuana under federal drug control laws, keeping the drug in the most restrictive category for US law enforcement purposes.

Just last week the Jamaican Government reminded the public in that country that marijuana in any form remains illegal.

Despite the challenges, Government continues to believe, as the Premier stated in late May, that Government favours hope over fear and therefore is pressing ahead as fast as possible but in a responsible manner.

“In many respects we are a pioneer in this field,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “We have moved from investigation to policy approval to legislative amendments and will soon go to the Legislative Assembly over the course of a few short months. However, at all times we have appreciated that we must proceed responsibly ensuring that what is brought forward has the best possibility for effective outcomes without causing unexpected consequences.”


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