Cannabis raid on Doctors Express ruled illegal

| 09/02/2021 | 165 Comments

(CNS): A judge has found that a raid at Doctors Express in 2019, when police seized medical cannabis from the physicians at the private medical clinic, was illegal. The decision was based on an unlawful warrant, which in turn was based on an unlawful cease notice issued by the chief medical officer. In his ruling on a judicial review heard by the court last year, Justice Robin McMillan identified a catalogue of wrongdoing in which various public officials colluded to prevent the doctors from dispensing the legal cannabis to their patients via vaping.

The judge’s ruling outlines a damning chain of events triggered by a desire by senior customs officers to prevent the lawful importation of the legal medical cannabis being distributed by Doctors Express after they issued a digital circular advertising the product to their patients.

The judge found that the doctors were targeted, and that was further supported by correspondence between the clinic’s owner, Samuel Banks, and CMO Dr John Lee, in which Dr Lee told Banks he had “ruffled a few feathers” and that he (Dr Lee) was now expected to do something about it.

It appears that is exactly what happened. As a result, a cease and desist notice was unlawfully used to secure an illegal search warrant, where law enforcement officials twisted the law to pave the way for the raid. This was compounded in the wake of the raid by the behaviour of customs officers, the fallout from the raid and the way the subsequent legal case was handled and then presented by the attorney general to the court, which was heavily criticised by the judge.

In his ruling McMillan said, “These judicial review proceedings have uncovered extensive evidence of conspiracy, misfeasance and perjury in senior public officials, including even before the Grand Court itself in an attempt to pervert the course of justice.” The judge accused Dr Lee of perverting the course of justice and the attorney general of breaching his duty to the public in the way the case was conducted.

In the wake of the alarming ruling, which shows that the state deliberately targeting and then acting unlawfully against the clinic and preventing them from treating their patients, Banks said that while he was pleased with the outcome, he regretted being forced to bring the case.

“The prescription medications unlawfully banned and illegally seized in the raid were intended to treat patients suffering from life-altering illnesses, including cancer, and conditions causing debilitating pain,” he said. “When Doctors Express first brought these pharmaceutical-grade medications to Cayman we liaised with customs, the police, the CMO, the Health Practice Commission and all relevant bodies to ensure we fully complied with the law.”

As a result, Banks said he wasn’t surprised that the court agreed Doctors Express had acted lawfully throughout.

“The judge found that the failure of lawyers on behalf of customs, the CMO and RCIPS to offer any timely concessions inevitably added complexity to these court proceedings and I’m also disappointed that the AG and these defendants unreasonably chose to contest this case in the face of the overwhelming evidence against them,” Banks added. “It is a source of regret that customs, the CMO and the Health Practice Commission unlawfully conspired to target Doctors Express, ban pharmaceutical-grade vaporisable medical cannabis and raid our health care facility for their improper purposes.”

The clinic has bow been vindicated by the court, which he said “saw through the untruthful evidence — sworn on oath — by Dr John Lee and customs in an attempt to cover up this conspiracy and pervert the course of justice.” Describing this as not just bad faith but corruption, Banks said it had no place in the Cayman Islands.

“Every one of us has the right to assume that our government is acting in good faith and in the best interests of the public,” he said. “It was clear to me that I needed to take this fight all the way to the Grand Court to ensure that government-appointed officials cannot victimise the people of this country with impunity. We are a country of laws — and today we have proven that no one is above those laws.”

Banks said that his lawyers are sending a copy of the ruling to the director of public prosecutions and relevant law enforcement and regulatory bodies and and he plans to make formal complains of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Meanwhile, with the judge finding that the cease notice and the warrant were illegal, he has now invited Doctors Express to present its case for damages.

See the full ruling in the CNS Library and check back for more details on the case later this week.


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Category: Crime, Customs, Health, Medical, Police

Comments (165)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how many other businesses endured loss of profits and loss of opportunity?

    Worst of all, how many patients had to suffer, because they could not get their medication?

    Wonder when local legislation will allow domestic cultivation and extraction of medical cannabis?

    And, government coffers are in need of replenishment, so domestic cultivation, extraction and export (to jurisdictions where lawfully authorised) will be be a major source of money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, when will local laws change to cannabis and medical cannabis laws?

    • Anonymous says:

      These changes have come in Bermuda, BVI, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and these are just to name a few. Cayman Islands is overdue for updating (medical) cannabis laws.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Marijuana, Caymaniana
    Cheaper than booze
    Safer than pills
    You can buy it from your nearest farmer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dr Lee is a mutt. I’ve said it many times during the Covid crisis that he never based any decision on science but rather as the political animal that he is. He should be removed from office. Period

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is similar in a way to the case of Dr. Lee injecting a patient in the spine with a medication only meant to be injected intravenously, who then died. Dr. Lee was charged with manslaughter but acquitted. In that case, Dr. Lee wasn’t sure what to do about an injection a patient was due for because he was covering for another doctor, and asked a third doctor if he should just go ahead and inject the drug. He was told yes, so he did. The similarity is that here again, when faced with the choice of doing something or not doing it, Dr. Lee defaulted to his instinct to go ahead and do it. In this case it was issuing the Cease Notice to halt prescription and distribution of the vapes, which then formed the basis of the Search Warrant, when Dr. Lee had no concern about the vapes but wanted to take the opportunity controversy over the ads for the vapes had caused to strike a blow against medical marijuana in Cayman, and satisfy those whose feathers were ruffled by the ads who he thought expected him to do something. Both times he had the choice not to do what he was thinking of doing, but did it anyway. He appears to be a cautious person but in fact has a bias towards acting when in doubt instead of not acting. If faced with a ticking bomb, Dr. Lee would make sure that whatever he did, he tried to cut some of the wires. I think that instinct – ‘well, I better do it’ – is what got him into trouble then and now.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A great day against Government paranoia, archaic Penal Code and “storm-trooper” tactics!! Someone should now bring a case against CIG against the ILLEGAL insurance fee that Customs tacks-on to every single shipment. Wish I could afford a good lawyer!! I paid US$103 for a clothing item on Amazon and just paid an additional CI$169 to clear it from Customs – comprising of duty, insurance, package tax!! Robbery!!!

    CIG, your initiative of addressing archaic laws (last week’s news) is long overdue but while you’re at it remove these “stealing” fees that are imposed by some Government agencies!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Fare comparison. He appears to be a person unable to make his own decisions, find answers.

  6. Anonymous says:

    No shame CIG now promoting Chuckie as a fine example to follow.

    • Anonymous says:

      Chuckle seems to keep well below the parapet in this one – the only mention seems to be his suggestion that the officer get a warrant. The lower pay grades that spoke to HOC, obtained and served the warrant- irrespective of who suggested they do that- are the ones in the cross hairs.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Customs is the gov. body that has the most to lose from legal cannabis in Cayman. This was a clear attack on cannabis users in Cayman and shows how much they value corruption rather than people’s personal health. Legalize it now! if Clifford wants to stop dangerous products from entering these islands maybe he should start with cigarettes

    • Anonymous says:

      Wait, watch, listen and learn. The public will be shocked at what comes next. Demise is coming for named parties and others.

      If they only were to know what some of us do. It’s going to be good. Justice will be prevail over injustice.

      Would not want to be certain people for all the money in the world.

  8. Anonymous says:

    No weed? No wote!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Throughout the lockdown and press briefings, Dr. Lee came across as a man of integrity. now we see he is willing and able to be a slimy pawn in this political landscape.

    • Anonymous says:

      The most worrying point is not the collaboration between the CMO and the authorities to achieve a desired (illegal) purpose, as much as the fact that he appears tp have issued a formal direction when a) he didn’t have authority to do so, but said or thought he had and b) issued despite thinking that the underlying premise for doing so was not true. The anti lockdown crowd are going to have a field day with this.

    • Anonymous says:

      He dodged a lot of questions or cunningly gave an answer that actually didn’t address the question. He’s a worm.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry you’re just seeing this. He was hired and originally given that position as a pawn to deny claims and requests for referrals etc. Ask anyone with cinico and health issues – everything changed for the worse as soon as he came in and patients were even warned to take care of medical probs before he came in to power because he was going to make everyone’s lives much more difficult (if it wasn’t bad enough dealing with them already). This was all to save the HSA money, which would not be a bad thing except it is at the expense of patients (instead of cutting their salaries, and ridiculous overspending and lack of accountability and corruption on their end).

  10. Anonymous says:

    His Covid oppression measures are an even bigger farce

  11. Anonymous says:

    Still third world and proud of it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Will all those Badges of Honour‘s be revoked for Dr. Lee and the the Director of CBC? Seems like that list of honorees are quickly falling as was expected by the public. Civil Servants being awarded for doing their jobs… Is this the World Class Civil Service the Deputy Governor is leading? All he does is justify the poor performance of his senior non performing Civil Servants. Seem with Dr. Ebanks from Travel Cayman but keep watching that list as there might be more “world class” behavior exposed soon. Perhaps look closer to the top of the CIG as behavior is learned from persons in leadership positions. The award should renamed to Badge of Horror!

    • Anonymous says:

      6:22

      Are you okay?

      Are you really saying that Dr Lee and Dr Garcia have not performed admirably in the past 8 mths. Are you wearing a mask? How many covid 19 funerals have you attended?

      The Civil Service has performed at a world class level over the pass 8 mths and we should be thankful.

      I am waiting on the appeal before I pass judgment.

      • Anonymous says:

        Explain trainergate to me before you spout all that world class crap, and praise the wider civil service for getting us where we are.

      • Anonymous says:

        This like mac saying he did so much good that it should offset the bad

      • Anonymous says:

        There is nothing admiral about committing perjury.

      • Anonymous says:

        LOL – What appeal?

      • Anonymous says:

        Appeal LOL. Do you think the AG wants this aired any further? Especially the fact that the bombshell e mail was withheld from the applicants until the very end of the review (and perhaps only inadvertently disclosed then), or the judge’s assessment of the behavior of the defence? As for the illegality of the search warrant – thats a slam dunk. There is no question here as to what the facts are. No -you can cue up a) Doctors Express lodging a damages claim for a gazillion dollars and asking RCIPS to imitate a criminal prosecution for perjury b) government handing them a whopping cheque under a strict NDA and then trying to bury the amount in some line item in the budget, at which point Doctors Express will quietly withdraw their complaint.

        • SSM345 says:

          They refer to those line items as miscellaneous surplus expenditure or something?

          • Anonymous says:

            In this case it will probably be health related which will then get seamlessly merged into Covid expenses.

      • Anonymous says:

        10:26
        unless you are 6:22’s mother, your patronizing “are you Okay?” is not appropriate.

        What constitutes “performed admirably”??? Making people wear masks? Treating them as children by forcing “alphabetical order” shopping?

        Or did they spend their time disinfecting various premises, delivering food to the needy, organized transportation to the vulnerable and disabled to see their doctors? Did they make sure that people with other chronic conditions, including cancers, weren’t left behind?

        What did they so admirable do, other than giving orders and statistics? So many good questions that people asked weren’t answered, because the answers would be “we don’t know”, when they should know.

        waiting on the appeal? Regardless of the outcome, Dr.Lee straight-fadedly lied.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “Describing this as not just bad faith but corruption, Banks said it had no place in the Cayman Islands.” No place? That’s all that happens here. Sad that cancer patients had to suffer.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This raid shouldn’t be the only one that is frowned upon by the public eye and the magical book of laws.

    How the ×¥÷£÷ anybody going to tell me what I can and can’t plant in the ground especially health related and the fact the god damn world needs more plants and trees because it is literally on fire from climte change?

    We all gotta step up and boot out thess corrupt bastards

  15. Angus says:

    I just found out that Dr Lee was never called to give evidence?

    Let’s see what the Court Of Appeal has to say about this case.

    I am withholding judgement on peoples character until them.

    • Anonymous says:

      His evidence was in front of the court already in the form of affidavits. Which turned out to be inconsistent and even untrue. Read the judgment – not sure where the room is for your doubt.

    • Anonymous says:

      By any chance did you withhold your judgment on McKeeva until he pled guilty – seems a familiar argument.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Not quite medically responsible, and on the borderline of not ethical, for Doctors Express to send out a mass text message “Medical cannabis in stock….Hurry while supplies last!”

    This is a medical drug, and professional doctors shouldn’t be hawking prescription drugs like it was a pizza deal.

    Can you imagine any other doctor mass advertising a other prescription drug in this manner. (Like my dentist putting out an advertisement “new shipment of high quality novocaine has arrived — come in while supplies last!”).

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re Off the subject

    • Anonymous says:

      I see medications that are prescribed in Cayman advertised and promoted on television every day Eg “talk to your doctor about getting these blood pressure tablets”.

      What’s the difference?

    • Jotnar says:

      Absolutely right. Now do you want to move on from Doctors Express ethical breach to the illegal as opposed to unethical actions of the authorities in seeking to punish that? That’s the essence of this – BC, HPC and Dr Lee didn’t like the ad or think it was “right” ( or in CBCs case thought it may be embarrassing as they had authorized the import of the drugs) so decided to bend it even ignore the law to intervene. When the authorities get involved in enforcing laws they think should be in place rather than those that are we are on a very slippery slope indeed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! They said it was for their cancer patients…..They are an urgent care facility. If a cancer patient needed it they could get it from their oncologist.

      The way they promoted it is why they were raided but everyone sees to be missing that point.

      • Anonymous says:

        So Customs didn’t like an ad? That gave them the right to lie to two courts and illegally raid a law-abiding business? Is that you Chuckie?

      • Anonymous says:

        OK Einstein – now explain to me why promoting the fact that they have a drug available that they have been legally allowed to possess and prescribe is (or rather “should be”) a criminal offence that allows the authorities to raid them? The “point” you are relying on is that you, CBC and Dr Lee think its immoral or unethical or inappropriate to advertise in that way or supply it, that’s enough to send the boys around.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The Governor and the Premier need to come out know and make a statement on this.

    Dr. Lee has committed perjury and if prosecuted he will be found guilty.

    If he doesn’t resign the Governor should ask for his resignation or fire him. At the very least the OBE he received at the Governors request from the Queen should be rescinded and returned.

    Let’s see what the Governor says about “rule of law” now and if he will stand up and be counted.

    Somehow I think he will just look the other way like both he and Alden did with Mckeeva.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, why is the Premier so quiet? Deputy Governor commented. Why doesn’t the Premier make a statement, especially so close to next elections?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Interesting how everyone is going after Dr Lee…pin the tail on the foreigner?
    How about Customs? How about the JP who has no clue how to be a JP? Actually, only a handful out of the hundreds of JPs on island actually know what they are doing.
    How about the police? How about the poeple who had their feathers ruffled?
    Many heads should roll but none will. The head of Customs should be holding a news confernece apologizing and then resign.

    • Anonymous says:

      Still, he committed perjury.

    • Anonymous says:

      The whole lot of them should be terminated. Don’t try to take attention away from Lee. A very intelligent individual that knew exactly what he was doing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dr Lee lied under oath…he committed perjury. Where is the confusion as to why people are calling for him to be fired or his resignation? As Chief Medical Officer, his behavior is despicable- has nothing to do with him being a foreigner so do not even attempted to stir that pot.

      As for the others, all who were involved need to face the music and be terminated. What occurred in this situation was uncalled for and unacceptable.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Customs…ever proud to have 100% Caymanian employees! Lol

    • Anonymous says:

      And they are very arrogant and unhelpful if you have a question about importation duties, waivers etc. Always quoting laws and regulations ( sometimes wrongly) at you and referring you to someone else, often “in the Ministry”, just to get out of genuinely trying to help. So it’s ironic they have been caught out so blatantly abusing the law.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dr Lee lied under oath.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. Not sure why he ever decided to fall on this sword.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is anyone has integrity and would standup to the Mafia?

    • Anonymous says:

      I find him to be a very nice guy, trying to do his job, but it has to be admitted lying under oath is very serious.

      • Anonymous says:

        8:36 Nothing nice about a man who tells lies, then tries to tell more lies to cover up his F ups.

      • Anonymous says:

        The trying to do his job but jars a bit with saying that there was no basis for thinking the medical vapes were harmful then trying to ban them because a) people asked him too b) he personally doesn’t like vaping and thought that this would help curtail other forms of vaping, also not illegal or c) both the above. Did he know CNC would use that as an excuse to kick down the door and try smdestroy Doctors Wxpress reputation and business? I would like to think he was being naive, but sending the cease notice to every practitioner other than the target of the raid looks awfully convenient.

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