5 July 2016
Progress made on legalising use of medical cannabis oil
Government is making progress on the legalisation of the use of medical cannabinoid oil, which is derived from the marijuana plant, for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma among other conditions. The Office of the Premier has confirmed that a first draft of the legislative changes to pave the way for the importation and prescribing of medical cannabinoid oil are currently under review.
Legal technocrats are currently scrutinising the details of an initial draft of legislative changes which will pave the way for legalising the use of medical cannabinoid oil in Cayman.
The Office of the Premier, in response to queries from The Cayman Reporter on Friday (1 July), on the issue confirmed that an initial first draft of the legislative changes has been completed and “that is being carefully reviewed.”
This follows on the announcement made by Premier Hon Alden McLaughlin in his Policy Statement entitled-“Delivering on our promises” on Monday (30 May), that Government will as a matter of urgency move to legalise of the use of medical cannabinoid oil for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma among other conditions.
Premier Hon Alden McLaughlin, on Monday 30 May, announced that Government intends, as a matter of urgency, to legalise the use of medical cannabinoid oil for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma among other conditions.
The Premier, in making the announcement, made it clear government is not legalising the use of medical marijuana in Cayman Islands.
“I am not talking about legalising the use of the cannabis plant itself for medical or other uses,” he clarified.
“I am speaking here about an oil extract from the cannabis plant that has been prepared for medical purposes and that will be imported into the Cayman Islands in a fashion similar to medical morphine,” he explained when he spoke in the Legislative Assembly.
While the Office of the Premier, in its response, said the actual implementation of the changes are “a long ways down the track,” it said work on the legislative framework is “proceeding.”
“This needs to be carefully done and consider all potential ramifications. 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 Office of the Premier said in its statement to The Cayman Reporter.
Regionally and internationally debate on the legalisation of marijuana continues to rage on with some countries opting to allow the use of the narcotic in controlled doses for medicinal purposes.
Just last month St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, during a visit to Cayman, told The Cayman Reporter that the Regional Marijuana Commission is expected to deliver its report to Caricom in July on the decriminalisation of medical marijuana and small quantities of the drug.
However Dr Gonsalves, who has been leading the regional effort for decriminalisation, admitted that he believes another year of consultations is possible before a regional decision is made.
On Wednesday 15 June the Regional Marijuana Commission, along with the relevant officials from Caricom, completed its consultations in St Vincent where several focus groups on the issue were held.
Dr Gonsalves stressed, in his interview with The Cayman Reporter, that “The decriminalisation that we are going for is really for medical marijuana and very small quantities, possibly for religious and recreational use.”
The Office of the Premier, in its statement to The Cayman Reporter, assured that legalising the use of medical cannabinoid oil in Cayman “remains a key priority of Government.”
The proposed changes, as articulated by Premier McLaughlin in May, will enable doctors to prescribe the use of the oil, which derived from the cannabis or marijuana plant, to patients in need.
“I am speaking here about an oil extract from the cannabis plant that has been prepared for medical purposes and that will be imported into the Cayman Islands in a fashion similar to medical morphine,” he explained.
The Premier also added that, “After carefully considering the merits and demerits of legalising the use of medical cannabinoid oil to treat those in our community with a debilitating disease, whether cancer, glaucoma, or perhaps even severe epilepsy, Government is persuaded that it is better to favour hope and compassion over fear.”
“We are treating this as a matter of urgency for we are keenly aware that time is not a luxury for many of those whom this drug may benefit,” he said then.
Last year Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo began a public campaign to solicit views on whether he should bring a motion on the legalisation of medical marijuana in Cayman. He received mixed support on the issue. The discussion on the motion remains open at this time.