Cayman News Service reported 19 September.…….(CNS): Customs and Border Control (CBC) officers raided Doctors Express, a medical practice in George Town, on Wednesday evening and seized “a large quantity of CBD (Cannabis) oils/vapes”, even though all the doctors at the clinic are registered practitioners. No arrests have been made and CBC Director Charles Clifford has said that because it is an active investigation, “no further comment will be made at this stage”. But CNS understands that the bust may have been triggered as a result of a misunderstanding over the law.
Doctors Express was in the public firing line recently from some parts of the community after it advertised the arrival at their clinic of a type of medical cannabis vapes, even though there is no legal barrier to the promotion of the product or its prescription.
Nevertheless, this seemed to also be behind the issuance of a memo on 14 September from the office of Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee to all practitioners requesting them to stop prescribing cannabis-related products that would be used through vaping.
Dr Lee’s office said an “investigation into the use of cannabinoids in medicine” was now underway, as he laid out what appeared to be his own opposition to the vaping of cannabis, suggesting there was a lack of evidence to support its efficacy or safety.
The cease and desist memo was issued under the CMO’s powers, despite the fact that the legislature legalized the medical use of cannabis oils and tinctures on prescription from registered doctors without any specific directions on how it would be prescribed and consumed.
Dr Lee said he was concerned about the increase in the prescription of cannabis and its importation.
However, other doctors and experts in the field have said that this was to be expected as patients seek more natural and less toxic alternatives to the pharmaceuticals they have previously been prescribed for a range of medical conditions and diseases, from cancer to general pain management.
The raid on Doctors Express was made three days after the memo was sent, and while CNS has asked customs under what part of the Misuse of Drugs Law the medical cannabis was seized, they have not yet addressed that part of out request.
There has been an increase recently in misinformation about the Misuse of Drugs Law on social media regarding medical cannabis. The current legislation makes no prohibition on the prescription of cannabis oils and tinctures by registered doctors, including the CBD or THC content in the drug, and leaves the dosage and mode of delivery to the physician.
Doctors Express had circulated a comment on social media raising their concerns about the order, which they said had left numerous patients suffering from a range of conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis, without their medication. The doctors said they were concerned that the complaints about the prescription of the drug by those opposed to any form of its legal use were drowning out the people who had been enjoying the positive benefits of this drug on their health and well-being.
CNS has reached out to the clinic, which is owned by local attorney Samuel Banks, for comment about the raid and where this leaves the patients, and we are awaiting a response.
Meanwhile, we have also sent a number of questions to the chief medical officer about the request for the doctors to stop prescribing cannabis, given that the legislation indicates that it is the CMO who approves the importation of all cannabis oils and tinctures in the first place.
The question of vaping has raised some concerns because of a number of deaths and related serious illness in recent weeks in several countries, including the US, which have been linked to this mode of smoking cannabis and flavoured nicotine. But so far, according to early tests, it appears that it is a type of vitamin E acetate added to the products that may be the cause of these vaping-related health issues.