Posted By: Austin Harris
Responding to concerns raised in the public domain that the government may in some way may be dragging its feet on introducing the use of cannabis oil for the treatment of cancer in the Cayman Islands, the Office of the Premier has said “While the actual implementation of the changes are a long ways down the track, work on the legislative framework is proceeding.”
Changes to three laws, namely The Customs Law, The Misuse of Drugs Law, and the Pharmacy Law are said to be presently underway and the government claims to“have made good progress”, and are expecting “another update this coming Monday (8 August) together with the most recent draft amendments.”
The Premier’s Office quickly pointed out however “This has not proved to be as quick as changing a few regulations” as was stated by former MLA Cline Glidden Jr. during a discussion on local talk show, Straight Talk on Thursday.
Mr Glidden, who was identified as having provided assistance to Dennie Warren Jr., who originally proposed the amendments to the government Caucus, said the “necessary laws could be amended by an order in Cabinet”, eliminating the added delay of requiring a vote by the countries legislators.
The Premier’s Office disagreed, saying “The oil is currently an illegal drug and its importation, possession, and consumption is illegal. Besides amendments to three laws, the process framework needs to be set up to include; the importation and control and dispensing,” similar to the manner conducted for legal drugs.
“What comes forward must be done with utmost care so that it addresses the need and it ensures that there are no unexpected consequences,” the Premier’s Office said.
According to a spokesperson for the Premier, “Since the announcement there has not been a week that a Minister or Councillor has not mentioned this issue and asked for an update. The Ministry understands, as does legal drafting, that this is a priority and that it has to come to the LA at the next sitting.”
The approach being taken by the government will allow doctors to prescribe Cannabidiol (CBD) Extract and for pharmacies to supply the “oil” as is done for other controlled drugs. Importation would follow a regime similar to that of other controlled drugs such as morphine.
The framework/process, as well as the legal changes, are also being carefully reviewed by the Ministry and legal and medical stakeholders to ensure that what is being planned can have the best opportunity for effective outcomes but with “no unintended consequences“, said Roy Tatum, Senior Political Advisor to Premier Hon Alden McLaughlin, who also serves as Minister for Home Affairs, Health & Culture.
Mr Tatum said amendments would be reviewed by elected members on Monday (8 August) and then by medical professionals later in the week and will thereafter progress to Cabinet and to be ready for the next LA meeting.
While the use of cannabis oil is now legal for medical patients in Canada, and Cannabidiol (CBD) Extract, usually in the form of “oil” medically available in 23 states of the USA, and decriminalised across much of Europe; the U.S Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the “oil” as a treatment for cancer.
Likewise, as progressive as the island of Jamaica has been in passing laws to decriminalise small amounts of cannabis/marijuana and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical cannabis industry on the island, an article that was published in the Jamaica Gleaner on Sunday, warned that “the distribution, sale and purchase of cannabis, cannabis-infused and cannabis-derived products are still illegal in Jamaica”.
The warning by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) comes amid what is describes as a “proliferation of cannabis, cannabis-infused and cannabis-derived products, of both local and overseas origin, being made available and/or sold throughout Jamaica”.
According to the agency of government that is responsible for regulating the development of Jamaica’s ganja industry, it began accepting applications for licences in June – a process that takes about five months.
“The CLA wishes to make clear that to date, no licences, permits, approvals, or the like have been granted by the CLA to any individual, company or co-operative,” consequently, the CLA said “any cannabis product produced and/or sold in Jamaica is done so illegally”.
Therefore, the exercise presently being pursued by the Cayman Islands could be considered “pioneering” in this area, and according to the Premier’s Office, and “the intention is to keep moving the process along so that the amendments can be debated and hopefully passed at the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly”, which is scheduled to take place at the end of September 2016, though no specific date has yet been fixed.