While noting that too many young Bahamians are imprisoned for possessing small quantities of cannabis, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham expressed his support for the legalization of medicinal marijuana.
“I support it,” Ingraham told The Nassau Guardian.
“Yes, as the minister [of health] does.”
He added, “As a general statement, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been, generally speaking, established to the satisfaction of many persons, including myself as a non-medical person.”
Ingraham said the government is tasked with wrestling with “the issue of recreational usage of a small quantity of drugs because large numbers of young people are being imprisoned because of it”.
Ingraham told The Guardian some consideration should be given to those people who possess small quantities of marijuana for recreational use.
“Too many young people are getting criminal records for small quantities of marijuana and we have to be able to come to sense with that,” he said.
Asked if he supports the government’s decision to form a commission to examine Bahamian views on marijuana, the former prime minister said, “Yes, I thought the government made a good decision to appoint a commission that can get feedback from the public and make a report that would be considered by the government and the public…”
Ingraham continued, “…. Based upon that report together with our knowledge, et cetera, we can make an informed decision for The Bahamas.”
In August 2018, the government formed a commission 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 Bahamas Marijuana Commission Co-Chair Simeon Hall and others have opined the financial benefit to the nation with regard to medicinal use could be far greater.
In July 2018, former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes told The Nassau Guardian it was a “no brainer” to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has also hinted at support for medicinal marijuana.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis and PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper have both come out in support of medicinal marijuana.
Cooper has also bemoaned how many young men get criminal records for possession of small quantities of cannabis.
A poll conducted by Public Domain last year found that 71 percent of respondents agreed that medicinal marijuana should be legalized, 21 percent disagreed and eight percent was unsure.
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