Premier Alden McLaughlin (who is an attorney) outlined the case against moving forward with the legalization of medical marijuana in the Cayman Islands. He then endorsed moving forward with the legalization of medical marijuana in the Cayman Islands.
A statement released by the Office of the Premier noted the following:
- “Cannabis oil” – a highly concentrated extract of marijuana (aka cannabis or ganja) – is not available legally in many jurisdictions, including Jamaica and in the U.S. under federal law.
- There is no consensus among the medical community that cannabis oil contains curative properties for diseases such as cancer. Due to the lack of evidence and testing, there is no agreement on dosage amounts.
In other words, if Cayman were to legalize cannabis oil, it’s unclear from where (or whom) pharmacists would obtain it, how doctors would prescribe it, or what the expected results might be. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of cannabis oil for medical purposes.
And yet, the Progressives government is moving ahead with planned amendments to relevant laws and regulations, perhaps as soon as this fall.
Hold on. While the FDA, like other evidence-driven organizations, can be slow-moving, even maddeningly so, it is still a remarkably credible body. In regard to the approval of substances for medical treatment, the FDA – not Cayman’s Cabinet – should be looked to for guidance. Once the FDA (or an equivalent regulatory agency) green-lights the prescription of cannabis oil (or any substance), then, but only then, should Cabinet race to make it available in our pharmacies.
What appears to be going on is that handful of influencers in the country, particularly people suffering from cancer (but also activists who want cannabis to be legalized period), have successfully pushed lawmakers into the medical marijuana field.
We have every sympathy for people combatting deadly diseases and feel they should have access to every proven treatment available, and recourse to as many experimental treatments as is feasible. We don’t want to take away people’s hope … but we also don’t desire to give them false hope (which approving the prescribed use of cannabis oil may very well turn out to be).
In this instance, at this point in time, there are far too many unknowns for us to support legalizing cannabis oil in Cayman. Chief among them is the question of whether Cayman providers will be able to import the product successfully from – and this is important – legal sources. (This is an issue that plagues many jurisdictions that have legalized or decriminalized the use of ganja, for medicinal or recreational purposes; namely, it is grown and processed “illegally” and only at a certain point on the distribution chain does it become “legal.”)
We haven’t lost sight of the patients in Cayman who have exhausted all other legal treatment options, and for whom cannabis oil is a last resort. Here’s our proposal: The government can pay to send them to other jurisdictions (California, Colorado, Canada, etc.) where cannabis oil is legal, just as hundreds of local patients already travel overseas for specialty medical care every year.
In the short term, it’s a faster and more elegant solution than attempting to make Cayman a cannabis oil (to use the premier’s word) “pioneer.”