(CNS): The governor has assented to an amended drug law to facilitate the prescription of medical cannabis oil. The step by government to legalise the medical use of ganja in the form of an oil or tinctures to treat cancer, epilepsy, or as a pain reliever for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, among a list of other conditions, was confirmed by Governor Helen Kilpatrick when she signed the amendment bill last week. With the legislative change Cayman is now a leader in the region when it comes to medical use, although the law that prevents any kind of recreational use of the drug has not been changed.
Amendments to Misuse of Drugs Law were supported unanimously by legislators during the last session of the Legislative Assembly. However, there is no sign yet of government amending what many believe are draconian laws regarding the recreational use of ganja, which still criminalises consumption.
Nevertheless, facilitating the medical use is a step in the right direction for people suffering from a range of conditions that cannabis appears to control or in some cases possibly cure.
The law was changed in Cayman after local photographer Dennie Warren began researching the drug after his wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. He began talking with government last year about the potential medical properties cannabis oil and the possibility that it could not only help treat and manage his wife’s cancer but there was mounting evidence that it could help put patients in remission.
After waiting for twelve months for the change in the law, Warren described the implementation of the law as “good news”, as it is now lawful for a local medical doctor to prescribe cannabis extracts and for a local pharmacy to dispense it within the Cayman Islands to the holder of a validly issued prescription.
“We thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible,” he said this weekend, but added that more work needs to be done.
The challenge now for Warren and anyone else suffering from pain, disease and other illnesses that cannabis can help is to import the drug because it is illegal to export even legally sold ganja, and event though the law allows its prescription in Cayman, it is not yet legal to grow the drug here.
Warren maintains he has identified ways of getting the drug, and now that the governor has signed the bill, he can begin the process of getting the oil here and for his wife to begin treatment.
But the hope that attitudes around the world are changing, with the development of a medical cannabis industry emerging in neighbouring Jamaica and more American states adopting legislation to facilitate its use for medical and recreational use, were recently dampened by the announcement that US President-elect Donald Trump has picked Jeff Sessions to be the new US attorney general.
Sessions believes that ganja is a gateway drug that “good people” don’t use and has no medical benefits. He once joked that he thought the Klu Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot” — a possible indication of the stand the new administration will take on cannabis, even though almost a quarter of Americans now live in states where at the very least it can be used for medical reasons.