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Marijuana commission to begin work soon

Newly appointed Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana Co-chair Bishop Simeon Hall said yesterday the committee will first approach members of the clergy to gauge their views as part of its national overview on the issue of marijuana.

Twenty-five individuals, including Hall, were appointed to the commission on Wednesday, though it remains to be seen how many will accept the appointments.

Former Deputy Commissioner of Police Quinn McCartney is also expected to co-chair the commission.

According to Hall, the commission will seek the input of a wide cross section of the public and is considering traveling to the Family Islands to hold meetings.

“One of the first steps Mr. McCartney and I considered is we need dialogue and education,” Hall told The Nassau Guardian.

“We are going to underscore and invite dialogue from all sectors of society and then the people need to be educated on it.

“The term marijuana is rather pejorative.

“People hear it and immediately they think all kinds of things.

“That’s why the technical name cannabis is a better word.

“But off the top, he and I met and we are setting an agenda with the members.

“We hope to meet with them in a couple of days and then we hope to meet particularly with the target group [which] is the clergy persons.

“We are going to call a meeting with clergy persons to get their feelings and hear [them].

“We are inviting discussions, and I think when you look at the commission members the government has given us, you see a wide range of persons on the list.”

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced just over two months ago that Cabinet had approved the makeup of a committee that will examine the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas and make recommendations to the government.

Its recommendations will then be tabled and discussed in Parliament

The commission is expected to take approximately three to four months to travel and do a national overview on the issue.

Hall could not commit to an exact timeframe for the commission to complete its report.

The issue of whether marijuana ought to be decriminalized in the region was on CARICOM’s agenda.

The Regional Commission on Marijuana, which presented its report to CARICOM on the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana in the region, put forward the view that, in a regulated framework, marijuana should be treated similarly to tobacco and alcohol.

According to the regional commission report, The Bahamas could see a financial benefit of around $5 million from the legalization of the substance and regulation of its sale, though Hall and others have opined the financial benefit to the nation with regards to medicinal use could be far greater.

Hall was also a member of the regional commission.

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