Customs and Border Control officers searched Doctors Express Tuesday, days after the medical facility was forced to pull cannabis vaping products from its shelves, according to a government spokesperson.
“A large quantity of CBD oils/vapes were seized,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement sent to the Cayman Compass, adding that no arrests have been made.
“This is an active investigation,” Customs and Border Control Director Charles Clifford said. “No further comment will be made at this stage.”
The search warrant was executed as part of a joint operation between the CBC and police, a government press release confirmed.
Doctors Express Director Sam Banks declined comment on the matter, citing the open investigation. He previously said Doctors Express is fully cooperating with the investigation.
Chief Medical Officer John Lee last week issued an order requesting all healthcare practitioners “cease and desist from the issuance, processing, dispensing or selling of any cannabinoid which will be used by vaporization until further notice”.
Cannabis extracts and tinctures of cannabis are lawful in the Cayman Islands where prescribed by a medical doctor, according to the Misuse of Drugs Law (2017 Revision).
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating a spate of deaths and illnesses believed to be associated with the use of e-cigarette and vaping products in that country. There have been 530 cases of lung injury and seven deaths reported from 38 states and one territory as of Tuesday, according to the CDC.
The Health Ministry in the Cayman Islands announced in a statement on Wednesday that it is reviewing local legislation “to protect members of the public from the potential fatal effects that have been seen in other jurisdictions, and to implement intervention measures into the use of e-cigarettes by children, including adolescents”.
Cayman’s National Drug Council on Wednesday issued a statement reminding residents and visitors of the legal restrictions surrounding the use of medical cannabis.
“While cannabis is available for medical use, the recreational use remains illegal and cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug,” the NDC statement reads. “There are serious repercussions, including penalties, imprisonment or both for possession, importation, manufacture, sale or distribution of cannabis.”
Cayman’s laws do not allow for the importation of cannabis purchased outside the Cayman Islands without the relevant permits and licences. The NDC did not specifically refer to the investigation concerning Doctors Express, nor the chief medical officer’s cease order.
“It is illegal to travel in and out of the Cayman Islands with all forms of cannabis which includes those products used for medicinal purposes,” CBC Deputy Director Jeff Jackson is quoted as saying in the statement. “These laws and regulations are enforced to all countries and its borders, whether cannabis is legal or not.”
The NDC also encouraged residents to make informed decisions when it comes to substance use of any kind.
“While we acknowledge there are positive impacts of the CBD component found in cannabis for medicinal purposes, we urge the public to be informed,” NDC Director Joan West-Dacres said in the statement. “It is well known that components of cannabis are addictive, affect the brain and; has been linked to increased risk of mental health problems.”