Business

Canadian law firm engaged to develop cannabis industry framework

The government has engaged Canadian corporate law firm Cassels to assist with the development of a regulatory framework for a cannabis industry, Attorney General Ryan Pinder revealed yesterday.

Cassels, according to its website, is respected cannabis law firm, known for contributing to thought leadership in connection with financing, structuring and regulatory issues in the cannabis industry.

Pinder said on Wednesday that within the first six months of the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1, the government intends to “develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for growing, harvesting and exporting cannabis”.

During the budget debate yesterday, Pinder explained that the increase in consultancy allocation for the Office of the Attorney General from $1.5 million to $2.25 million, is to cover the costs of services for cannabis legislation and other novel legislation proposed in the next fiscal year.

“You would have heard me yesterday speak to a rather aggressive legislative agenda and we’ve had a rather aggressive legislative agenda since coming to office. I personally believe that international benchmarks of best practices are the best way to create novel legislation and in doing so you have to engage outside council in different specialty areas. For example, on cannabis legislation I have retained Cassels, which is the preeminent firm out of Canada, the jurisdiction that really reformed cannabis regularization,” he said yesterday.

“I have retained Hogan and Lovells, an American-British law firm, that for decades now has been the attorneys for the government, performing good services, now benchmarking the Mining Act, and they helped benchmark the Carbon Credit Act. They are working on the Carbon Exchange Act. So outside advice in order to advance these novel pieces of legislation and pieces of policy are fundamental I think to doing it the right way. In fact, I would have overspent my consultancy budget this fiscal year for doing just that, and so I think it’s definitely money well spent. It sets us as leaders rather than followers and creates a really innovative platform for the country.”

Cassels has acted as corporate and securities counsel for various private and public companies in the cannabis industry, as well as licensed producers and late-stage applicants on various matters including licensing, financings, mergers and acquisitions and go-public transactions, according to its website.

Pinder earlier this week said that the new cannabis framework will be for the regulation of the medical cannabis industry from the farm to the border, and will also provide a separate regulatory framework for industrial hemp, for wellness products and for industrial uses such as clothing, rope and building materials made from hemp.

He said it will also provide a framework for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis products.

The Minnis administration developed cannabis legislation and distributed it for public feedback, but never tabled the bill in Parliament.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) promised to address the issue of developing a cannabis industry in its Blueprint for Change.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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