Bishop Hall supports medical marijuana
Bishop Simeon Hall said he supports the regulation of marijuana for medicinal use but believes that the government should engage in a public study on the issue before taking any action.
Hall, who served on the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana, said the current legal framework for marijuana in the Caribbean region is “is ineffective, obsolete and unjust”.
“While I support the regulated use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, I believe an intelligent national conversation should precede how we, as a people, address this historical-social phenomenon,” Hall said in a statement.
“The statistics I have studied, as a member of the CARICOM commission on marijuana over the last two years, clearly show that this herb which grows on every island nation in this region has medicinal value and can be used as raw material for other positive purposes.”
The commission recommended the declassification of marijuana as a dangerous drug in all legislation and the reclassification of the drug as a controlled substance in its report presented at the CARICOM heads of government meeting last week.
“Another compelling feature of our interaction throughout the region was that of social injustice,” Hall said.
“The analysis of the comprehensive information gathered, indicates that the current legal regime for cannabis characterized, as it is by prohibition and draconian criminal penalties is ineffective, incongruous, obsolete and unjust.
“Cannabis/marijuana is a victimless crime.
“Persons using this herb can end up with harsher penalties than those convicted of serious victim-based crimes.
“Without question, there is a clear public opinion in favor of legal reform to existing laws on cannabis and the removal of prohibition.
“Amazingly, those who oppose the use of marijuana say very little about the destruction of alcohol and tobacco.”
Hall said he is convinced that “marijuana was criminalized in the 1930s to protect the interest of liquor merchants when prohibition had just ended”.
“The commission I was asked to serve on was made up of a lawyer, a medical doctor, a pharmacist, two social scientists, a psychiatrist, a police commissioner, a Rastafarian and I, as a Christian pastor,” he said.
“The commission, based on statistics gathered, concluded that cannabis/marijuana can no longer be accurately classified in law as a dangerous drug with no medicinal value.”
Hall added, “Regulated marijuana usage is a call to return to natural non-synthetic medicine.
“This call is being made to the annoyance of some doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies.
“I would advise government to engage in a full and well thought out study on this issue – especially its medicinal value and lets help the least – the lost and the left out.”
A recent poll by Public Domain found that 71 percent of respondents in The Bahamas agreed that medical marijuana should be legalized, 21 percent disagreed and eight percent was unsure.
Several prominent Bahamians have voiced support for medical marijuana including Former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, who said it’s a “no-brainer” to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
North Eleuthera MP Ricky Mackey, Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin and Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper have also said they support medical marijuana.
When he returned from the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government will establish a committee to embark on an educational campaign in The Bahamas to gauge public opinion on marijuana.