HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday suggested there will be an official crackdown on the sale and use of CBD as he sent a strong warning to businesses and consumers that cannabis-derived products are still illegal.
Dr Sands pointed to an uptick in advertisements for products containing cannabidiol or CBD, and said his ministry has met with both the Customs Department and the Royal Bahamas Police Force to bring them up to speed concerning enforcement.
He said: “Notwithstanding the fact that everybody is excited about the fact we’re discussing changes in our approach and that they may have changed the laws in Canada and parts of the US — the Dangerous Drugs Act remains in force.”
“The act recognises CBD and hemp as illegal so whether you think it should be illegal or don’t think it should be illegal, right now it’s illegal. We have not changed any laws.”
His comments indicate a shift in tone from earlier this year, when he was asked by The Tibune about the boom in CBD products hitting shelves locally.
In March, Dr Sands confirmed there were no licences issued by the Ministry of Health, as required by the Dangerous Drugs Act, to import cannabis-derived products, but stressed it was not his ministry’s job to enforce or intercept goods.
Customs Controller Dr Geannine Moss also confirmed recently there were no restrictions on the import of products containing cannabis compound CBD.
At the time, Dr Sands said the uptick in local advertisements for topical products containing cannabidiol or CBD represented an inevitable trickle down of global trends. He suggested topical products were not a major cause for concern as more companies chased the newest natural health fad.
Yesterday, Dr Sands said: “What’s happening is people are bringing in all manner of things. So we’ve met formally with police and [Department of] Customs. No hemp, no CBD, no THC, no marijuana, no cannabis. No one is going to be using unless they already have a license to import. Those creams, lotions, ointments, salves that you see anywhere, if they have been imported without a license then they are illegal.”
“We’re simply reminding people what the law on the books of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas says,” Dr Sands continued, “the problem is that if you don’t remind people of the law, some people will take advantage of this scenario and they will claim that it is ambiguous.
“It’s not ambiguous, we have paneled a marijuana commission. They’re not done with their work. It would be absurd of me to have a panel who is working, and then to issue a series of licenses ostensibly around them with no regard to their deliberation. It means that I would have presupposed the outcome.”
The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana (BNCM) was expected to submit its first draft on Bahamian attitudes on the controversial plant— the first step in a larger debate on the prohibition of medical and recreational use, this month.
However, the commission has been granted a three-month extension, Dr Sands confirmed.
Medical marijuana can be prescribed as the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts, and the major active compounds in those extracts, are the cannabinoids CBD, THC, and cannabinol or CBN - which is mildly psychoactive with powerful sedative properties.
Popular uses of CBD - which is not psychoactive - include relief from chronic, muscle pain, convulsions, and inflammation; and the use of CBD oil has become immensely popular.
The Dangerous Drug Act restricts “every compound, manufacture, salt derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant or resin” unless given a special permit for medical or scientific purpose.