The legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes was supported by all present Cayman Islands lawmakers Monday afternoon.
“[This bill] is going to give [patients] hope to be able to cope,” said Education Minister Tara Rivers. “That … is a very powerful drug in itself.”
The Misuse of Drugs Bill [Amendment] 2016 may require some doctoring in the Legislative Assembly’s review committee prior to a final third reading on the bill, which is due to occur in a few days’ time, Premier Alden McLaughlin acknowledged.
The changes may be needed to address issues raised by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and by the premier himself regarding where cannabis oil might be sourced from. No one in the Cayman Islands manufactures the oil, which is the product of the marijuana plant, and importing the drug from the U.S. could prove problematic due to federal prohibitions on transporting illegal drugs internationally.
“I support what the government is endeavoring to do, I’m just not sure it is going to be possible,” Mr. Miller said.
Premier 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.
Mr. Warren attended the House Monday while the legislation was under consideration for its second reading.
“I would like to thank all of the members for their support of the bill,” Mr. Warren said. “It is my view that the members of the House do not yet fully comprehend the significance and the importance of today’s decision to move this legislation forward.
“Science, I believe, will one day give cannabis the credit it deserves in a number of areas. It feels good to know that the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands had the courage to be in the forefront of this very important development.”
There was no dispute Monday afternoon that the legislation would pass, only over how it would be implemented.
There have been some concerns expressed regarding whether the passage of the legislation may be the first step toward the legalization of ganja in Cayman, but both major political parties indicated that was not something their members would support.
“I think for now, we’re going as far as perhaps we can go,” Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said.