All cannabis-related products, including items like hemp milk and shampoo, are prohibited from being sold in the Cayman Islands, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Gent.
The ban encompasses any product containing even trace amounts of cannabinoids, making the sale of hemp-derived products, a cannabis derivative, illegal without a prescription.
In contrast to the United States, where certain low-THC cannabis products are legally available, the Cayman Islands strictly regulate products with cannabinols, irrespective of whether these substances are listed in the ingredients. Retailers considering the sale of such products are advised to seek legal counsel.
This issue emerged following Gent’s recent guidelines for healthcare professionals regarding the use and possession of cannabinol and its derivatives in the Cayman Islands.
The guidelines were prompted by a case in which a teenager fell ill after consuming edibles obtained through a food delivery app. Although the edibles were hemp-based, not marijuana, they were not directly sold to the teenager by the pharmacy, which had rigorous procedures for prescription fulfilment.
Gent clarified that there is a misconception about the import and sale of cannabis products in the Cayman Islands, emphasising that the law does not provide exemptions for hemp-derived products. Medical professionals are urged to prescribe cannabis products that meet equivalent manufacturing standards as other medications.
Gent stressed that it is the responsibility of retailers and importers to comply with the law and suggested seeking legal advice if there is any uncertainty about the legality of their products. Selling or importing products containing cannabinoids without a prescription is an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Gent highlighted the control of cannabis due to its potential harm, especially during pregnancy and in individuals with mental health issues, particularly in adolescence and early adulthood. Cannabis use is also associated with an increased risk of road traffic accidents.
The safety of individual cannabinols varies, making it challenging to classify any one extract or product as entirely safe.