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Home / Lead Stories / It’s all gone a bit potty

It’s all gone a bit potty

This image of a marijuana plant would be illegal to bring through Cayman customs. Source: United States Fish and Wildlife Service
This is the type of clothing that gets seized. We had to blur out the cannabis leaf for our print edition so as not to fall foul of the law

Customs officers seized hundreds of items of clothing from people coming into Cayman – just because they had pictures of ganja leaves on them.

Hats, T-shirts, shorts, socks and pants were all destroyed for containing an image of a cannabis leaf – and it wasn’t just clothing either.

Customs also confiscated ornaments, vases, ashtrays, bags, bandanas, earrings, pendants and even a skateboard, all because each one contained an image of ganja.

The information has been gathered using a Freedom of Information request. We asked for a list of all items seized by officials at both the airport and cruise ship port since 2015.

In total, 420 items depicting a cannabis leaf have been seized in the past 30 months. That’s almost one every two days.

Although a cannabis leaf is not offensive nor obscene, it falls under the prohibited goods customs law. Other items on the list include weapons, the deadly herbicide Paraquat and rice and sugar from certain counties.

The law states: “The import of all goods depicting or bearing, whether expressly or by implication, any reference to ganja or the ganja plant is prohibited, except where the goods depict or bear reference to any cannabis extract or tincture of cannabis.”

Collector of Customs Charles Clifford confirmed all items seized are eventually destroyed.

We don’t want your favourite newspaper ending up being destroyed. So, instead of a cannabis leaf on our front page we printed a lovely picture of Bob Marley instead.

“As a general point the items seized by the Customs Department that depict ganja or the ganja plant are not seized under the Penal Code on the basis that they are obscene publications,” Mr. Clifford said. “Those items are seized under Section 5 of the Customs (Prohibited Goods) Order (2017 Revision).

“The items are ultimately destroyed. The Customs Department has never said that these items are ‘obscene’. There is simply a prohibition against the importation of these items…..and it is on that basis that they are seized at our ports of entry,” Mr. Clifford confirmed.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said wearing clothing with a ganja leaf on it is not an arrestable offence.

But, a spokeswoman added that an officer may, if they choose, prepare a file and send it to the court to see if further action would be taken. However, they were unaware of this ever happening.

Other items seized by Customs in the past two years include poker chips, sling shots, flick knives, a cross bow and a spear gun.

They also took possession of fighting spurs that are used to put on the feet of roosters and a set of brass knuckle dusters.

And on 21 occasions since the turn of 2015 they recovered items classed as “obeah” which are used to practice witchcraft and sorcery.

Sorry, no leaves from us

We wanted to print a picture of a ganja leaf in our newspaper to show you exactly what appears on clothing that is seized. Slight problem…. we may also be in breach of the customs law as well if we did print a picture of a ganja leaf.

The Cayman Reporter is printed off Island and flown in twice a week to keep you up to date with everything that’s going on.

And, when we asked Customs if we would get in a spot of bother if we printed a picture of a cannabis leaf, this is what they told us.

“It will be seen that there is no exception for newspapers therefore it would be inadvisable to attempt to import newspapers that depict ganja or the ganja plant,” Mr. Clifford said.

Better safe than sorry…..we don’t want your favourite newspaper ending up being destroyed. So, instead of a cannabis leaf on our front page we printed a lovely picture of Bob Marley instead.

About Paul Kennedy

During a career that spans almost three decades, Paul has covered some of the biggest stories in the world for regional and national newspapers. A multi-award winning journalist and published author, he has worked for the past six years producing television news and documentaries in Cayman. Paul is also the host of a weekly football show. His dream story is to find a dog that can play piano.

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  1. Are we also going to confiscate anything with the picture of a gun if the holder doesn’t hold a firearms license or a car if the holder has no license and insurance
    Aren’t they illegal too ?
    Just saying

  2. Social Conservative

    What complete and utter pussies!