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Marijuana commission wants report deadline extended

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana is eyeing a six-month extension to submit its findings to the minister of health, Quinn McCartney, who co-chairs the commission, said yesterday.

Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands had initially said the commission was expected to submit its findings by the end of April.

However, McCartney told The Nassau Guardian, “We’re hoping certainly before the end of the first half of the year or certainly within the…third quarter, so we don’t want to go beyond October.”

He continued, “We’re hoping to definitely have something done, a comprehensive document, by no later than October of this year. I think October would be a safe date because this is May already, so May and June, so realistically October would be a realistic deadline.”

While the commission has only hosted three town meetings thus far, McCartney said the work done has been “interesting”.

“We’ve developed a survey and we’re in the process of determining how we’re going to administer that survey because again you want to get a scientific survey to get the scientific views of the Bahamian public so we want to have that launched,” he said.

“We also want to sort of engage in public relations and education. Even in our town meetings and talking to the public, we realize that there are some persons that [have] very, very strong opinions, but there are also some persons who are also still trying to make a decision or take a position but basically what they need is more information particularly with medical marijuana; for example, the effects and benefits and stuff.”

Sands said he is expected to meet with McCartney and Bishop Simeon Hall, who both chair the commission, today at 11 a.m. at the Ministry of Health.

The meeting is expected to address, among other things, the commission’s work thus far and to set a new deadline for the submission of its findings.

The commission was formed last August by Cabinet and was tasked with examining the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas.

Upon the completion of its examination, the commission will make recommendations to the government which will subsequently be tabled and discussed in Parliament.

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 regard to medicinal use could be far greater.



Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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