Jamaica rejects Cayman cannabis company's claims

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 18, 2017

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BOTH the Ministry of Health and the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) yesterday denied any approval was given for sale of cannabis oil medication from the Cayman Islands.

The denial was triggered by reports in the Cayman news media that Jamaica's Government-owned Hope Institute was close to making a deal with a Cayman-owned cannabis company, Lion's Garden, to provide cannabis oil to the institution.

The Hope Institute works in close conjunction with the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in the furthering of cancer treatment in Jamaica.

In a statement responding to reports yesterday, the Ministry of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Winston De La Haye, said that the statement was not tue.

The ministry's release said that Dr De La Haye “wished to make it clear that a story aired on Cayman 27 in the Cayman Islands, indicating that a businessman there is close to inking a deal to supply cannabis oil medication to the Hope Institute in Jamaica, is not true”.

It said that De La Haye was aware of a proposal “for a cannabis-related clinical trial at the Hope Institute”, which was submitted to the ministry's ethics committee. However, he said that the proposal was not accepted.

“I can categorically state that the Ministry of Health in Jamaica is in no discussion and has no plans of engaging any overseas entity to supply the entire health ministry with any form of medical cannabis,” De La Haye was quoted as saying.

The Cayman businessman, Prentice Panton, was said by the Cayman media to have stated that he was close to “inking a deal with Jamaica's health ministry to supply that country with cannabis oil medication”.

Panton said that he had sent 10 fluid ounces, as a sample, to the hospital and is awaiting word from the Hope Institute's “head doctor” for approval.

But, according to CEO of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) Greg Douglas, “All activities which are pursued in compliance with the medical system also require a licence issued by the CLA, otherwise those activities are, essentially, illegal.”

Panton's Jamaican partner in Lion's Garden, Christopher Nixon, who has been doing most of the local discussions with the ministry, admitted on radio yesterday that he did not have the ministry's registration, or a licence from the CLA.

This is the second occasion in recent months that Douglas and the CLA have had to contradict claims by foreign investors that they have been approved for trading in cannabis-based products in Jamaica.

In early July, it was reported in cannabis-related media circles that Colorado-based United Cannabis Corporation had announced that Jamaica's Ministry of Health had registered its “Prana P5 Hemp Bio Nutrient Capsules”, “Aromatherapy Roll-On” and “Sublingual Drops”, and approved a Jamaican bilateral partner of the company, Caribbean Research & Development Limited, to begin production in Jamaica.

This led to a response from the CLA, which noted that “with a desire to see the Jamaican medical ganja industry up and running”, some aspirants had sought product approvals and registrations from the Ministry of Health.

But, the CLA explained, while the Ministry of Health is responsible for approving products under the Food and Drugs Act, “approval of a product by the Ministry of Health allows the holder of such approval (only) to make the product available for consumption, based on the medicinal or other benefits claimed”.

“Such approval by itself is not sufficient to commence business operations within Jamaica's budding cannabis industry,” the CLA CEO said.

Douglas noted that the CLA is responsible for “all matters pertaining to the cultivation, transportation, processing, retail and research and development [of cannabis in Jamaica], each of which requires a licence to participate”.

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