Doctors raided over legal cannabis

| 19/09/2019 | 97 Comments

(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 misunderstand 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.

See the memo from Dr Lee’s office in the CNS Library here

See the Misuse of Drugs Law here


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Category: Local News

Comments (97)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A bit off the subject, but full spectrum hemp extract transdermal cream is the only thing that helps my mom with pain in her bones. She rubs it into her spinal cord, hip bones and pain is gone. I guess it has something that numbs pain receptors. When she runs out of it, she uses regular CBD oil, it also works. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive.
    P.S. Daily AM sun exposure and the cream are helping her, even her bone resorption markers have improved a little. Of course, there are no studies, and I doubt ever will be. But it helps her and that is all that matters.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is tru I suffer bone decay and this is the only thing that works, people against this are complet stupid idiots and haters….

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Can’t comment on the raid but let’s be clear about the products and the health risks. It’s 530 cases of SEVERE lung injury, with 7 deaths, in the young, the vast majority of whom cite THC vaping (and you cant rule out the others weren’t because for some it would be admitting to a drug-related crime).

    Because of this, it’s not 530 out of the population or even out of vapers. It’s 530 out of younger people using THC vapes. That’s a much smaller pool and therefore an alarming statistic. We’re right to be concerned and indeed right to be upset when a health clinic promotes such products to the young at the height of the concerns.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Quite sure more people in Cayman have died due to cars, cigarettes and alcohol in the past year. Why the arbitrary line?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Being a disaster with cars, cigs & alcohol doesn’t make THC vapes right. It just means those others are terrible too. Be upset about those sure but don’t use them to justify this

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, pal, You’re promoting more misinformation.

      The unfortunate people who have become sick from vaping bought, illegal, illicitly-made “street vape” cartridges that contained a contaminant, Vitamin E acetate, that black market drug dealers use to ‘cut’ the oil to increase profits.

      You can’t compare the pharmaceutical-grade vaporisable medical cannabis that Doctors Express was selling to the street vape garbage that’s getting everyone sick.

      Why the link with THC? Because drug dealers know they can make more $$ selling garbage THC cartridges since THC is illegal in the US (but not in Cayman as long as you have a prescription). Obviously, drug dealers have less incentive to make counterfeit nicotine vape products on the black market because they’re *already legal*.

      These same garbage THC street vapes are already available on Cayman’s bustling black market.

      Dr Lee’s poorly thought-through decision to ban the *only* pharmaceutical-grade vaporisable medical cannabis on the Island isn’t going to make the very sick patients who need this medicine to manage pain, etc. all of a sudden stop vaping.

      It’s important to remember these are very sick people with conditions like cancer and chronic pain who need the immediate relief that only vaping can provide. They’re *not* going to stop vaping THC.

      Instead, because of Dr Lee’s ban, they’re going to be forced into buying garbage street vapes already on the black market, which WILL hurt their lungs.

      Dr Lee’s decision to ban pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis makes about as much sense as banning pharmaceutical grade opiates because people are dying from heroin.

      We all know that Dr Lee is a pain doctor XXXXX. You’ll never hear him say anything about banning opiates although 130 people die from overdoses EVERY DAY.

      But, he’s investigating medical cannabis that is one of the safest medical products available?

      XXXX

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      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t think so. CDC say they don’t know but they are investigating whether it MIGHT be related to illegal stuff. Nobody knows. You would just like to believe a convenient story.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How is sending a text to Digicel subscribers regarding a medicine that **requires a prescription**, marketing to youth?!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Really? My son received that text saying while stocks last! He is definitely a youth. You do realise that everybody who turns up gets charged for the appointment even if they don’t get cannabis. It’s unethical

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        • Anonymous says:

          CDC oil is legal. THC in vaping is not.
          I agree it is totally unethical.

          This group of doctors need to fire which ever bright spark thought that they should advertise something that 90+% of residents would not qualify for a Prescription & yet you thought you would mass market it?!!

          Need business that badly?!

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:17 am
      How many people died from Tylenol? It would not have been approved today had it not been approved long time ago. My son works in a medical lab, in marketing, and this is the first thing that had learned.

      “Tylenol Is By Far The Most Dangerous Drug Ever Made”
      Why would Dr. Hausknecht, a New York neurologist and pain management specialist, say this?

      “Acetaminophen is the nation’s leading cause of acute liver failure, according to data from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes for Health. Analysis of national mortality files shows about 450 deaths occur each year from acetaminophen-associated overdoses; 100 of these are unintentional.”

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      • Anonymous says:

        Forgot to add that my son rejects all alternative “stuff’, is a pro-vaxxer, take your medicine, listen to your doctor kind of person (he is 27, and the opposite of me), but you won’t catch him taking Acetaminophen. He is more careful now after the #1 prescribed medicine for injured back has nearly killed him, after just 1 dose.

        So everyone is different, what heals one can kill another.

        P.S. Pharmacogenetics is the study of how people respond differently to drug therapy based upon their genetic makeup or genes. Diet, overall health, and environment also have significant influence on medication response, but none are stronger indicators of how you will process medication than your genetics.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Legalize cannabis for recreational use and medical use, provide the opportunity for people to grow it legally here on island, stop spending millions for the police to take down criminal drug cartels and put the business regulated and locally. Tax and put the money back into the community and schools. The Capital of USA has cannabis for recreational use so anyone thinking that it’s so harmful look into that and all the states that have medical cannabis.

    How many breweries are on island, how many bars, how many restaurants serve alcohol how many gas stations serve alcohol. The entire island runs of the profits of alcohol I wouldn’t doubt that alcohol companies wouldn’t want cannabis being legal for that would hurt profits.

    Processed Food is a drug,
    Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The memo clearly applies to “any cannabinoid which will be used by vaporisation”, not other forms.

    I don’t think it was appropriate for Doctors Express to advertise the THC vapes the way they did.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s wrong to equate frequent and addictive vaping of unregulated and flavoured nicotine oil to vaping of medical grade cannabis oil produced under medical license where one hit or two does the job for several hours. No comparison. Vaporisation is merely the delivery meathod. It’s like banning drinking liquid medicine because drinking alcohol causes diseases.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I had back surgery last year, and thanks to a cannabis oil prescription from Doctors Express I was able to come off OxyContin 1 day after surgery. I had absolutely no side affects from the oil, it made the pain easily tolerable, and I was able to go about my life as usual within 3 days of surgery. I don’t smoke weed and I am an educated professional. This is not snake oil science. Thank you Doctors Express for making these amazing products available.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    CBC has too many “over zealous” officers that break the laws every day in their line of duty. Chucky needs to get them some proper training on how to investigate cases properly as well as how to treat people with whom they come in contact with. Some of them are going to cost this Govt some serious money as they’re violating the Human Rights Law in some instances.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I am visiting my family here now. Before I came last week, my us doctor said I should use cbd for my pain from lupus. I was scared to bring it with me. Would customs had taken it away from me?

  9. Anonymous says:

    just think that the government should get with the “times” and legalize it…it is just a matter of time….if you add the total amount that was trying to come ashore in the last month…there is a high demand for it…that is a lot of smoking per capita.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    CBC/CIG i hope Sammie Banks SUES the pants off of yall sticking ya nose where it dont belong… which seems like yall getting good at that !!!! A good reputable honesy camanian running a great medical facility here on Island and has done nothing but good for our Islands and helped so many people that couldnt get the correct medicine at one time and now you FOOLS want to tarnish the establishment by raiding the place like they doing or distributing something illegal ……bunch a jokes …..put it on um Sammie yeah we stand behing you brother

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  11. Moi says:

    Rather strange that these ‘symptomd are only being reported in the US. No other countries. Makes one wonder…

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  12. Anonymous says:

    All this because of one spam text. That’ll learn ya. #justsaynotospam

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    • Anonymous says:

      It wasn’t spam. It was illegal marketing (doctors cannot advertise here)

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      • Anonymous says:

        Actually both doctors and facilities can advertise their services perfectly legally but it has to be proportionate, professional and not intrusive. It’s difficult to justify a highly intrusive text message to a population where only a tiny fraction would be eligible and yet many are going to get a consultation charge even just to find out. It went to children as well as adults too. That doesn’t even consider the ethics of mass promoting a controlled drug that should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Explain to me how the government can seize their property, when it is legal under Section 2A of the Misuse of Drug Laws? The letter suspending sales says it is via the power of Section 14, but that section allows the CMO to “make rules.” The seizure section of the law is Section 10 and that only applies to drugs under Section 6 – which does not apply to legal drugs sold pursuant to a legal prescription. Even assuming Dr. Express did something to violate terms of its license, the gov does not have the right to take private property outside of the law or shut down a legal product without properly promulgating rules. Putting aside any ethics, it appears the government has overstepped its authority. Lawsuits to follow….

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  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s great to see the legal facts finally being stated. XXXX I can’t imagine how awful it must be for a patient suffering from a serious ailment and having their medication illegally taken away from them. I’m looking forward to DE getting their justice for this. Issues surrounding vapes abroad are in relation to illegal, black market vapes, which will of course cause harm… Not medical grade products with hundreds of years worth of research behind them, hence why they were made legal!

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    • Anonymous says:

      No one is stopping the legally prescribed cannabis oil here. That is not THC in vape form.
      These express doctors are not getting enough walk ins ( their original business model) so have advertised permit Medicals/aids testing & now this.
      Doctors are not supposed to advertise their services here so they seem to have got desperate for business.
      Come for the vape…no you can’t get a prescription for it as you do not qualify…but here’s our bill.
      $$

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear..what a mess!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Alcohol is by far the greater evil here. If I was new to this planet this would be one of those rules that I would scratch my head at.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Drinking Alcohol is a health risk, therefore we should ban and confiscate all liquid medicines now! Let’s go CBP. You got work to do!

  17. Anonymous says:

    You’re giving Mormons a little bit too much credit, they don’t have that much influence. It was more Du Pont and their dealings with additives for fossil fuels and the fact that most of them had Congress in their pockets plus a few other bones to pick by the rich. The Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, who was a banker also took over Gulf Oil Corporation so there’s that. Then there is William Randolph Hearst. Hearst’s company was a major consumer of the cheap tree-pulp paper that had replaced hemp paper in the late 19th century. The Hearst Corporation was also a major logging company, and produced Du Pont’s chemical-drenched tree pulp paper, which yellowed and fell apart after a short time. Hemp was and is sustainable and better paper but also profitable for minorities at the time and that didn’t sit well with the racist. Anyway, now we have an illegal plant that should have never been illegal and no way to explain to the ignorant that they were played by rich corporate America.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So true. Always follow the money. Good read is Economic Hitman which chronicles corporate America’s doing it all over the world.

  18. Anonymous says:

    What about toxins from the Dump? They kill you slow vs.vaping kills you fast is that why nobody cares?

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to third world. Superstition is stronger than laws, facts, and common sense. Given what passes for education here it is to be expected. Plan accordingly.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Take a look at all the TV ads for drugs being offered by Big Pharma. The side effects from that shit will kill you, so if they (CBC) are on a mission, then everybody would be better served if they were to go after those guys instead. At least they half-way deserve it and are making million$ off the crap. Even then though they provide disclaimers too, so it’s not like the public is being deceived by them. If you are a consumer in this modern world and you don’t have sense enough to read the fine print, then you pretty much deserve whatever follows. I mean, doesn’t virtually EVERY supplement manufacturer recommend that you consult with your doctor first before taking their product? What the hell else should anybody be expected to do?
    Man… it’s downright scary how many nut-jobs are out there in the world these days, with no common sense and too much time on their hands.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Same applies to the “illegal” dirt bikes which have been imported and duty already paid to CBC!

    Is there anyone in Government who has the intelligence to see that something is wrong with this approach and the balls to call it out??!!

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  22. OneVoice says:

    This is outrageous to say the least. Now help me understand this, The items was permitted by CBC to enter the Island, duties paid I assume, then you are going to RAID my office, Hell to the NO. If there is a misunderstanding, be professional about it and ask the business to bring in the item until the matter is solved. This is wrong on all levels. CBC needs to be investigated as well for this strong arm action. I know I would sue, according to or government they have a few hundred million in surplus. Just saying.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Isn’t it more about the vaping than the CBD? That is what I understood from the story. Also don’t they have their patients contacts- why advertise it the way they did like it is a case of “come one come all”? We all need to be mindful of this vaping epidemic that seems to be sweeping the world. Apparently vaping tobacco, CBD, Synthetics etc. is harmful to some persons.

      I don’t have the answers, no medical degrees but I believe I do have a little common sense and do a lot of reading to educate myself and still that a little caution goes a long way.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    One step forward, 10 steps back. Doesn’t help that that one fool and her “news page” still continue to report things like this incorrectly to her 50 followers of questionable intelligence

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  24. Victor Look Loy says:

    i think it is time I open a Law firm

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    • Anonymous says:

      There’s a shortage? Why not a church too?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dr. Look Loy, you should do so. Although the law appears to prohibit it, the reality is that numerous law firms are owned and controlled by non attorneys at law, many of whom do not even live here. Go for it!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yup. We live in a country where even the lawyers may not feel obliged to follow the law. It seems to be a free for all.

        I hear the fee for fronting is $5,000. I can do it for $2,500. Any takers? There is no risk of any prosecution so I can charge a lower price.

  25. Anonymous says:

    So the Customs and Border control raided the medical facility. Wouldn’t the product (cannabis oil/vapor) have to of been imported into the Island and passed through Customs??

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    • Anonymous says:

      Same thing with letting the limo tint by and those body massagers – because god forbid a woman lets off some steam.

      “We’re gonna come raid you for stuff we let you import”

      Comical. Legalize the toys and trees already.

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    • Anonymous says:

      RAID implies excessive unnecessary force. These people have been watching to much TV.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “a surprise visit by police to arrest suspected people or seize illicit goods. ”
        at least that is the definition according to the Dictionary.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They learn from the US forces. Guns drawn for no reason at all.
        “Felicity Huffman awoke to FBI agents with guns drawn at her L.A. home in college cheating raid”. “Felicity Huffman’s Daughter ‘Has Nightmares’ Over Armed Arrest of Mom in College Admissions Scandal”

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  26. Anonymous says:

    With all the ways you can die, does it really matter what kills you? On one hand, If you’re dead, you’re dead, no matter from what, so it seems silly to focus on changing something that lowers the risk of death from one cause only to raise that risk from another.

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    • Bertie : B says:

      Instead of all this mickey mouse crap maybe people ought to stop and think of the real world these days , for instance / India has Nuclear Weapons , They also believe in reincarnation / can you imagine ? go ahead push the button , no problem , we will come back . Just push it a little and lets see what happens . I hope when I come back ,my job wont be answering computer problem questions .

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Now pass me that crack pipe.

  27. Caymanian question says:

    I would like to know when this business imported this product didn’t they declare what was being imported with customs? If so, customs didn’t think it was illegal at that time.
    If they didn’t declare these products, will they be charged for illegal importing?

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  28. Anonymous says:

    I want to see their ole sour faces when they have to take back the LEGAL cannabis they seized. People seem to forget the Premier ok’d this right before his second term. Bunch of border control fools.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    and you wonder why people have such a low regard for the police farce????

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  30. Anonymous says:

    To raid a licensed and regulated clinic seems absurd, heavy handed and completely unnecessary. Am I missing something here?

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    • Scotland Yard says:

      It appears everyone is missing something! But then again it is customary for commenters to unleash their opinions, without having any facts. I am sure customs did not carry out a raid without just cause., therefore we need to stop the speculation. I often read, where people are asking for transparency and fairness in carrying out the law, regardless of the perpetrator. Unfortunately, with CIG involved, it will probably be swept under the carpet and Charles Clifford highly reprimanded for doing his job. That seems to be par for the course here in Cayman, unfortunately.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “I am sure customs did not carry out a raid without just cause.”

        I’m afraid your are being naive. The history of Cayman’s law enforcement agencies obtaining and executing unlawful search warrants and then being sued is extensive.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are not missing anything – it is absurd!

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  31. Anonymous says:

    They will never stop the herb !

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Time for the media to come up with some stories of how the cannabis oil and vapor has improved the lives of some people here.
    If not, it will just be a discussion between jesus freaks and people with a brain.

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  33. GTH says:

    Wow. Anything to stop people from getting one of God’s natural gifts of medicine! All because of the money!

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    • Anonymous says:

      You mean:well, but you word it wrong:
      All to stop people from getting better for less money, but god fanatics want them to suffer, so they come to church.
      It is not about the money, it is about the survival of religion.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear oh bloody dear. CBC officers, but not doing a customs job or a border control job. Where were the police or business licensing authorities in this “raid.” Methinks someone is about to get sued.

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  35. Anonymous says:

    Doctors Express is, in my opinion, the best medical practice in the Cayman Islands. The service is fast and professional and I have nothing but good things to say about the staff and the facility.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They’re great people who do good work. What can I say. We need to get out of the 1960s mentality here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You mean the 1930s, when the mormon church and utah government made cannabis illegal.
        That is why religious people are so fanatically against it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Good things to say about a company that advertises vaping on mobiles to children?
      Please. Good doctors do not advertise.

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      • Anonymous says:

        in the Cayman Islands you have to undergo a medical assessment before any CBD oil can be prescribed. Additionally, the prescriptions are not open ended and ongoing medical assessments are needed in order to continue to get new prescriptions.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Being raided definitely tarnishes reputation. The clinic has quality doctors and is owned by an Attorney, do you really think they are going to be rebels? Obviously not and it’s a shame that they now are associated with a negative headline.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They are rebels:
        They advertise all the time (not supposed to)
        They advertise vaping (to all Digicel phone holders)
        If they were so good they would be too busy for new patients.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You think advertising is a form of rebellion or non-compliance? Good luck buddy!

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        • Anonymous says:

          Ah Digicel, who farm out our cellphone numbers to advertisers and bombard our phones with unwanted messages and pop-ups. Without our consent. I think ultimately it might be they who send out the messages, but not altogether sure. This ought to stop under the Data Protection Law.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Slightly disappointed in CNS on this one. Not at all neutral or informed. Letter from Mr Lee clearly is just to cease vapes of THC. Concern arises because of deaths in young people from vaping THC. Legal use in Cayman is CBD. THC is psychoactive (why people smoke marijuana in the first place), CBD is not. CBD has licensed medical indications e.g. epilepsy, whereas THC does not. CBD is supported by robust clinical trials whereas THC is not.

    XXX

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    • Anonymous says:

      BS. BS. BS.
      My spouse used a vape with ONLY CBD oil for pain & anxiety management. This has been stopped due to the letter sent by Mr. Lee. Other option is to take OPIODs for pain and other drugs for anxiety. Is that better?

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    • Anonymous says:

      No THC and CBD are both legal in Cayman with a doctors prescription

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      • Scotland Yard says:

        And anyone can get a prescription! I need a fix tonight, no problem here you go, $100, thank you, anytime. Many doctors have created drug adicts and continue to feed them for the $. Many people’s thinking stop about drug addiction, for the simple fact it was prescribed by a doctor. This is a global issue, but hoping it doesn’t become a major problem here in Cayman. With all the frenzie portrayed on this particular headline, I am certain that patients who genuinely require cannabis oil for medicinal purposes are receiving their treatment. And for those questioning the actions of law enforcement agents, there are rules and regulations that apply to all businesses operating on these Islands, including doctors, lawyers, accountants etc.

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  37. Anonymous says:

    Big pharmaceutical wouldn’t let weed be used.

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  38. Anonymous says:

    Can we all please come to an understanding that cannabinoids are not the health concern, it is the ADDITIVES in the VAPES that carry the cannabis or nicotine that is the concern?

    Marl Road over in her corner promoting thesun OF ALL THE NEWS SITES LOL for its sensationalist click bait.

    CNS all the way!

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    • Anonymous says:

      No we can’t because CBD and THC are different and although people think it might be additives, there are concerns about THC. And only THC vapes have been banned.

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      • Roland T. says:

        There are no health concerns with brewing or baking Cannabis with a little butter to activate the THC. No one has ever overdosed on THC.

        If you can prove the danger by replying with reputable peer reviewed research, I will donate $500 to the red cross on your behalf and reply with proof of my donation.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Medicines are licensed by having evidence they are safe, not by having no evidence they aren’t. Think about it. That would mean any new medicine or product without any evidence at all is automatically approved on your basis of no evidence it’s unsafe. I will go cook something up in my kitchen right now

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