Bill to legalize cannabis oil introduced

Lawmakers to debate proposed legislation Monday

Dennie Warren, whose wife was diagnosed with lung cancer, has become an advocate for legalization of cannabis oil for medical purposes. - PHOTO: MATT LAMERS
Dennie Warren, whose wife was diagnosed with lung cancer, has become an advocate for legalization of cannabis oil for medical purposes. – PHOTO: MATT LAMERS

Please see the update to this story. — Ed. 


ORIGINAL: Legislation that would legalize cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the Cayman Islands was introduced Friday afternoon, but Legislative Assembly debate on the measure was held until Monday.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, who is also the minister of health, said he agreed to bring forward proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Law allowing for the legalization after local resident Dennie Warren Jr. made a presentation to the Progressives government caucus about the uses of cannabis oil in treating cancer patients.

Mr. Warren’s wife has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, the premier said.

“[Mr. Warren] felt this option would give his wife some hope,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

The premier said only licensed pharmacies would be able to import cannabis oil and only physicians could prescribe it. Changes to regulations governing customs and pharmaceutics have been made in preparation for the bill, but will only take effect if lawmakers agree to pass the bill.

“There were and remain some reservations about the use of this oil and its purpose, because there are still questions about its efficacy,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Nowhere in the world have they yet been able to determine definitively that it has the curative effects that many of its advocates believe.

“However, it is very useful in dealing with a range of symptoms that arise from serious illness.”

The premier also noted there could be questions about from where cannabis oil might be sourced, given that many of Cayman’s Caribbean neighbors had not legalized the oil or the marijuana plant from which it is derived.

“But we do not want people to continue to suffer,” he said. “We believe we must do what we can.”

Debate on the bill is expected to begin Monday.

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