Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick has assented to changes to the Misuse of Drugs Law allowing for the importation of oil derived from the marijuana plant for medical purposes only.
That means Cayman pharmacists and doctors can lawfully import and prescribe cannabinoid [cannabis] oil for patients, as long as they can find a source to import it from. The bill does not legalize ganja usage for medical purposes.
The Legislative Assembly unanimously approved the changes allowing the importation Oct. 24.
According to the final version of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Law, 2016: “The use of cannabis extracts and tinctures of cannabis for medical or therapeutic purposes, where prescribed by a medical doctor licensed in accordance with the Health Practice Law as part of a course of treatment for a person under that medical doctor’s care, is lawful.”
The final version of the law leaves it up to Cabinet to make regulations as to how the importation, storage and dispensing of the substance will occur. Such oils are only allowed for distribution by a licensed pharmacist.
Change to the regulations governing customs and pharmaceuticals were already made in preparation for the law’s passage, Premier Alden McLaughlin said.
“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 in October during a Legislative Assembly debate on the matter.
“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.”
No one in the Cayman Islands currently manufactures the oil, and importing the drug from the U.S. could prove difficult, if not impossible, due to federal prohibitions on the international transport of such substances.
Caymanian Dennie Warren Jr. first brought the issue to the Progressives-led government political caucus last year after finding out chemotherapy and radiation treatments for his wife, who has stage 4 lung cancer, would not be effective in treating the disease.
Mr. Warren said, after passage of the bill in the assembly, that he was not certain where cannabis oil might legally be imported from. However, he said several countries, including Jamaica and Canada, have given indications that they were considering legalization for medical purposes. “It’s better to have [the local] law in place, so we’re ready for it when it happens,” Mr. Warren said.