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Pintard: Marijuana debate a distraction

Michael Pintard.

Minister of Agriculture Michael Pintard has suggested that the recent heated debate surrounding marijuana legislation in The Bahamas is a distraction from the ministry’s work.

When asked in a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian whether he believes legislation of the substance will boost end of year results for Bahamian farmers, Pintard said, “We are focused on food security.

“Secondly, we are focused on non-food items that we have the capacity to produce.

“The additional arguments that have been made with respect to medical marijuana, in my view, sucks up a lot of the oxygen we should be applying to these other areas that we need to focus on and that’s where my focus is.”

The CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana has 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.

Among its other recommendations, the commission suggested that “small farmers and small business persons should be included in production and supply arrangements with appropriate controls limiting large enterprise and foreign involvement”.

The commission also recommended that marijuana legislation should provide for the protection of seeds and strains of cannabis, through intellectual property mechanisms.

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.

Former Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014, has also spoken publicly about his support and use of medical marijuana as a part of his cancer treatment.

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.

 

 

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