A Cayman Islands pharmacy says it has secured an import permit to bring cannabis oil to the territory for medicinal purposes.
It is believed to be the first such permission to be granted since cannabis oil extracts and tinctures were legalized late last year.
However, the export from Jamaica will still require approval from the Cannabis Licensing Authority in that country.
Despite approving amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow the drug to be prescribed for therapeutic purposes, several politicians, including Premier Alden McLaughlin, had highlighted practical concerns around importation.
Though cannabis is produced and used for medical purposes in multiple countries, its import and export are tightly regulated.
Michael Anderson, pharmacy manager at Foster’s Food Fair IGA, said he had sourced cannabis oil from a company in Jamaica. He said he has secured an import permit from Cayman Islands health officials and has started the process of importing the product on behalf of one patient.
A spokeswoman for Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority said Tuesday it had yet to authorize any company to sell cannabis and could not give a timeline for when companies would be licensed to export cannabis oil.
Mr. Anderson said the pharmacy researched and located the required product and strength for the patient’s condition. He said he was not aware of the regulatory requirements in Jamaica, which would be the responsibility of the supplier. However, he stressed, “At this point, we don’t have a prescription for any patient at all. Any patient requiring this will need a prescription from a doctor.”
He said the research helped establish a process for how patients can get cannabis oil products once a doctor prescribes them.
“There have been numerous inquiries, but what we have directed patients to do is to go and speak to their doctors,” Mr. Anderson said.
He said patients would need different strengths and types of cannabis oil-derived products depending on their conditions, and more education is needed generally for health professionals.
“There may have to be some collaboration between doctors and pharmacists to get the right products once a patient’s needs are identified,” he added.
The cannabis oil product approved for import from Jamaica was tested by the University of West Indies toxicology lab, Mr. Anderson said.
Dr. Delroy Jefferson, chief medical officer for the Health Services Authority, led a seminar for pharmacists this month on medical cannabis, highlighting issues such as how the diversity of types and variability of cultivation of cannabis impacts dosage requirements.
Mr. Anderson said in most cases pharmacies would wait to get prescriptions before bringing in cannabis oil products.
Dennie Warren, who campaigned for the law on cannabis oil to be changed, said he is happy that Foster’s has secured an import permit. He said his wife, who has stage four cancer, is now seeking a prescription from a doctor for cannabis oil, which he believes could help cure her.
“People have to understand that they are going to have to go to a doctor and get a prescription,” he said. “The pharmacy is not just going to import the oil and hope people show up. That is not going to happen till they become more familiar with what people are using.” He added that he supports further changes to the law.
“I feel we need to be growing it in Cayman. This process is way too cumbersome. Doctors are very reluctant to prescribe it. It is frustrating still because people’s lives are on the line.”
Mr. Warren will share his story Wednesday night at a CayCann medical cannabis seminar at the Lions Centre, which features American guest speakers Dr. Dustin Sulak and Dr. Ethan Russo. It starts at 7 p.m.