Only Bahamian citizens age 21 and older, or an established legal entity, would be allowed to apply for five licenses to handle cannabis at a cost of $10,000 each, according to the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2021 obtained exclusively by The Nassau Guardian this week.
The bill, which seeks to set out a framework for the establishment of a medicinal cannabis industry in The Bahamas and the regulation of the handling of the plant, would give power to the Medicinal Cannabis Authority to approve persons or entities applying for a license.
The five types of licenses are: a cultivation license to allow growing, harvesting, drying, trimming, curing or packaging of cannabis; an import license to allow for the importation of cannabis seedlings and cuttings from any country in which it is lawful to do so for the purpose of cultivation; an export license to allow for the export of locally cultivated cannabis, cannabis materials, cannabis products or medicinal cannabis to a country to which it is lawful to export; a manufacturing license to allow for processing and manufacturing of cannabis materials, cannabis products, or medicinal cannabis; a research license to allow for the conduct of scientific research relating to the development of medicinal cannabis; and a transport license to allow for the transport of cannabis, cannabis materials, cannabis products or medicinal cannabis in The Bahamas.
Each license costs $10,000 and in the case of the transport license – which covers up to three vehicles – any additional vehicle would cost $1,500.
The licenses granted would be valid for a period of three years, according to section 31 of the bill.
That application process involves the completion of an application form, proof to the satisfaction of the authority of the eligibility of the applicant, a nonrefundable $1,000 application fee – $2,000 for two or more licenses applied for at the same time – and a police character certificate.
Applicants for licenses must also submit a survey plan of the land on which they are to be situated, along with any limited company or partnership legal documents.
The authority would determine whether to grant or refuse any license applied for and can refuse licenses if it deems the person applying is not a fit and proper person.
The determination of whether a person is fit and proper is based on the financial status or solvency of the person, the educational or other qualifications and experience of the person; the ability of that person to carry out a regulated activity competently, honestly and fairly; and the reputation and character of the person.
Other reasons an application would be refused include: if the granting of the license would be inconsistent with The Bahamas’ international obligations; the authority is not satisfied on reasonable grounds of the suitability of the location or the proposed security arrangements at the premises; in the case of an export license, the applicant does not already have a cultivation, manufacturing or research license; or the license fee has not been paid.
License holders would not be able to transfer their licenses to another person, according to the bill. Applicants may renew their licenses no later than one month before their expiration at a cost of $1,000. A variation of a license would cost $750.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that he had been presented the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2021 and would distribute it to Cabinet within the next week before it is tabled in Parliament.
In February, the prime minister announced that the government would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and establish a medicinal marijuana industry. At the time he touted the legalization of medical marijuana as an opportunity for Bahamian entrepreneurs.
The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana has estimated that it could be a thriving $50 million per year industry.