Update On Access To Cannabidiol Products

March 7, 2018 | 9 Comments

Minister of Health Kim Wilson provided an update on the status of importation and sale of Cannabidiol [CBD] products, which were recently classified as an over-the-counter medicine available from a pharmacist.

Speaking in the House of Assembly last Friday, Minister Wilson said, “CBD containing products with less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] were recently classified as an over-the-counter medicine available from a pharmacist at a pharmacy through the Pharmacy & Poisons [Third and Fourth Schedule Amendments] Order 2017.

“Since that time, this Ministry has addressed a multitude of questions and queries and is aware that the public would benefit from further clarification on how to obtain CBD products and the legal process for their importation and sale in Bermuda.

“As a reminder, the Cannabis plant contains over 400 naturally occurring chemicals, at least two of which have grown popular for their unique effects in humans: THC for its psychoactive effect, causing the marijuana ‘high’, and CBD for its potential medicinal properties.

“The objective of the Pharmacy & Poisons [Third and Fourth Schedule Amendments] Order 2017 was to create access to medicinal products containing CBD, as long as they have negligible THC content.

“The legislative change made requires that in Bermuda it be sold at a pharmacy, by a pharmacist. It is effectively what is informally referred to as ‘behind-the-counter’. This enables a trained health professional to discuss the matter with a patient and provide health education on its appropriate use.

“In the short two months since the legislative changes were enacted, the Ministry of Health is not aware of any problems in accessing CBD medicinal products and it appears that behind-the-counter sales are occurring without incident.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker and Honourable Members,

I rise today to offer this Honourable House an update on the status of importation and sale of Cannabidiol [CBD] products. CBDcontaining products with less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] were recently classified as an over-the-counter medicine available from a pharmacist at a pharmacy through the Pharmacy & Poisons [Third and Fourth Schedule Amendments] Order 2017.

Since that time, this Ministry has addressed a multitude of questions and queries and is aware that the public would benefit from further clarification on how to obtain CBD products and the legal process for their importation and sale in Bermuda.

Mr Speaker,

As a reminder, the Cannabis plant contains over 400 naturally occurring chemicals, at least two of which have grown popular for their unique effects in humans: THC for its psychoactive effect, causing the marijuana “high”, and CBD for its potential medicinal properties.

Both of these components are the subject of ongoing scientific study and commercial enterprises across the globe. And the legal status of each component is the subject of heated discussions surrounding the options for reform.

Mr Speaker, the objective of the Pharmacy & Poisons [Third and Fourth Schedule Amendments] Order 2017 was to create access to medicinal products containing CBD, as long as they have negligible THC content. Although the science of CBD-containing products is lagging behind the public demand for the products, there is consensus among health authorities that some products are sufficiently safe to be sold without a prescription. The recent legislative amendments were enacted to improve access to medicinal products which contain CBD. These products can be purchased at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription.

It should be noted that the legislative change made requires that in Bermuda it be sold at a pharmacy, by a pharmacist. It is effectively what is informally referred to as ‘behind-the-counter’. This enables a trained health professional to discuss the matter with a patient and provide health education on its appropriate use.

Mr Speaker,

This Honourable House should also be aware that CBD products may be especially sought after as a complementary or alternative treatment for serious medical conditions and some consumers may be medically fragile. CBD-containing products are for sale behind the counter at pharmacies so that the public might be in a better position to receive helpful guidance and input from a registered pharmacist at the point of sale.

It must be remembered that although CBD containing products are generally thought to be safe, most of them bypassed the rigorous scientific testing required of pharmaceutical products. Their longterm effects, side effects, safety and efficacy have not generally been proven just yet, to the standard that most medicines have been. Therefore, the Ministry of Health concluded that it would be most responsible to take a cautious first step and provide some pharmacy professional oversight in the use of these products.

Mr Speaker,

In the short two months since the legislative changes were enacted, the Ministry of Health is not aware of any problems in accessing CBD medicinal products and it appears that behind-thecounter sales are occurring without incident. It is still early to offer a reliable report of the impact of the legislation.

Mr Speaker,

The issue most of interest relates to the requirements for commercial importation of CBD products. I would like to offer some clarifications here.

First, CBD products must be sold only in pharmacies and dispensed from behind-the-counter by the pharmacist. The rationale for this was just noted. Furthermore, this requirement stands for all products in Schedule 4, part 2 to the Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1979. These are products sold behind pharmacists’ counters.

Secondly, commercial importation of prescription drugs are allowed only by individuals recognized by the Ministry of Health as commercial importers for reasons of public safety. Issues such as product quality control, safe storage, hygienic practices and recordkeeping are relevant for these types of products, as with other medicines.

The process for becoming a “recognized commercial importer of drugs” is overseen by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer [CMO], and occurs in collaboration with other relevant departments.

Mr Speaker,

There is an essential administrative process which includes identifying the business owner or importer, inspecting the location for medication storage, and confirming employment of a registered pharmacist depending on the type of drugs being imported. Those interested in commercial importation of CBD products should contact the Office of the CMO for further guidance by emailing, OfficeofCMO@gov.bm or go to the Government Website where you can download the Guidance Document.

Mr Speaker,

I will conclude by restating that the purpose of the most recent legislative amendments relating to CBD-containing products was to make such products available for complementary or alternative medical purposes for consumers who want to use them. However, we have to ensure that it is procured, handled and sold safely to patients.

CBD containing products with less than 1% THC pose no risk of addiction or abuse through diversion for recreational purposes and may safely be accessible to the public for medicinal use. We are optimistic that this goal will be accomplished in due course.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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  1. sage says:

    THC has medicinal qualities, not just CBD. Euphoria, an appetite, restful sleep and a general sense of well being are the result of the ‘entourage effect’ cannabis in it’s natural state, with all the cannabinoids and terpenes, provides. Why is it on the schedule of drugs and illegal in the first place? CBD only extracts are corporate robbery.

    • Whistling Frog says:

      Most people are aware of the magnificent benefits of the plant. It’s the governments who try and keep its people in the dark.

  2. Zevon says:

    Haven’t she just increased the cost of MRIs?

  3. Geniuses says:

    Wow, these ministers trying to sound smart, when it is the thc that has medical value. Thc stimulates the immune system and kills cancer, amongst about 300 other medical uses. How can you be so blind to this? Who runs our nations, keeping cancer-killing natural plants illegal? They don’t want the cure and it was here the whole time. Science proved in the 1970s that thc killed cancer. It literally kills cancer cells. Who on earth would choose to ignore this?

  4. spinspinspin says:

    ‘It must be remembered that although CBD containing products are generally thought to be safe, most of them bypassed the rigorous scientific testing required of pharmaceutical products. Their longterm effects, side effects, safety and efficacy have not generally been proven just yet, to the standard that most medicines have been. ‘

    So the real question is who in the PLP owns a stake in the business importing these products?

  5. Knowledge says:

    ‘First, CBD products must be sold only in pharmacies and dispensed from behind-the-counter by the pharmacist. CBD-containing products are for sale behind the counter at pharmacies so that the public might be in a better position to receive helpful guidance and input from a registered pharmacist at the point of sale.’

    Pharmacists are not taught about cannabis or CBD as a part of their curriculum at university. CBD was virtually illegal worldwide until 2017. Every bit of information that the trained pharmacists at Bermudas pharmacies are giving to their customers can be obtained by a simple google search. Furthermore, in almost every other western country (the US, Canada, the UK) CBD is regulated like vitamins. This regulation is a method of making money for the pharmacies, not for protecting Bermuda’s citizens. This is similar to the previous Minister of Health’s decision to only allow pharmacies to sell e-liquid, yet cigarettes can be sold anywhere. CBD should be subject to the same free market as all other health food products, and if an individual wishes to purchase CBD from a pharmacy so they can speak to a pharmacist about any concerns they may have, then they have that option.

    • spinspinspin says:

      It was a business decision, pure and simple. I’d like to see the register of beneficial owners from the importing company.

  6. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Another facade…(sigh).

  7. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    But really though…that’s just a bunch of finely edited beaurocratic jargon…Bermuda could become a leader in the production of medical grade cannabis with its climate and local expertise…it’ll be the next biggest export bermy has seen since the onion and lilly…but nah…that’s too economical…God forbid the little man might make some money…

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