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Marijuana commission given three-month extension

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana has been given an additional three months to examine the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas and make recommendations to the government, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.

Cabinet approved the formation of the committee last July, following recommendations by the Regional Commission on Marijuana, which presented its report on the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana in the region, to CARICOM last year.

“They have been working for more than three months but their work is not yet complete,” said Sands, on the floor of the House.

“Their work is funded by the government of The Bahamas and the secretariat is supported by the Ministry of Health.

“The panel’s report, once completed, will be presented to the Cabinet of The Bahamas, [which] – mindful of the concerns of the people of The Bahamas, would make any legislative or policy amendments deemed appropriate.”

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, 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, but advocacy groups suggest that figure is far too conservative, and if considered beyond domestic use, it is over $1 billion.

Sands noted that as Cannabidiol or CBD products become a hot commodity worldwide, there has been an increasing interest developed in The Bahamas.

“While we acknowledge the interest, our local deliberations have not been completed,” he said.

“We do not know what the commission will [recommend]. The Bahamas is a country of laws. The Dangerous Drugs Act remains in effect. As such marijuana, cannabis, THC and yes CBD remain illegal without a license.

“Having empaneled the marijuana commission, we are not minded to circumvent the work of that commission by the issuance of multiple licenses.

“So, individuals who are selling marijuana, hemp, CBD products, are doing so illegally.

“Those who are doing so, may or may not be selling authentic product and the buyer would have no guarantee of safety or efficacy.”

Sands added that the police forensic team has done analysis on some of the confiscated samples of the CBD products and have found that there is an inconsistency in the content of some of the products, as some do not contain CBD.

He said after his ministry met with the customs department and police, “We have collectively affirmed the legal position that all products imported, advertised, sold, containing any of the components without as outlined in the Dangerous Drug Act are being sold illegally.

“Unless and until the legislative framework is changed, the laws of The Bahamas remain.”

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications
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