Cannabis bill nearly complete, AG says

The legislation to establish a cannabis industry in The Bahamas is nearly complete, Attorney General Ryan Pinder said yesterday.

However, even though he told the Senate in June 2022 that the government intended to advance its Cannabis Bill to “develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for growing, harvesting and exporting cannabis” within the first six months of the new fiscal year, he was unable to say when the legislation will be introduced in Parliament.

“The slate of legislation has been prepared,” he told reporters when asked for an update on the matter yesterday.

“It’s been finalized. It’s been handed over to the Ministry of Health as the operative ministry since it is a medical cannabis regime.

“They have done their review of the legislation and come back with some technical questions, which we are addressing. We have also had our external consultants review the full suite of legislation. They have likewise come back with some input and some questions and recommendations that we are incorporating in the suite.

“So, we’re near complete.”

In September 2022, Agriculture Minister Clay Sweeting expressed hope that the proposed legislation will be brought before the end of the fiscal year.

He had previously expressed hopes that a bill will be introduced in Parliament before the end of 2022.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has pledged to “develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for growing, harvesting and exporting cannabis, so that the industry creates opportunities for many, not just a few”.

In January 2020, PLP Leader Philip Davis called then-Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ promised cannabis reform “public relations gimmickry” and later questioned why the Minnis administration was taking so long on marijuana legislation.

Asked about the timeline yesterday, Pinder said, “That is part of the Cabinet agenda and Cabinet will decide.”

Pressed about the timeline, he added, “I’m only one of 22.”

Pinder previously said the legislation’s 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 the industrial uses such as clothing, rope and building materials made from hemp.

“We will also provide a framework for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis products,” Pinder added in the Senate during the budget debate last year.

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Krystel Brown

Krystel covers breaking news for The Nassau Guardian. Krystel also manages The Guardian’s social media pages. She joined The Nassau Guardian in 2007 as a staff reporter, covering national news. She was promoted to online editor in May 2017. Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications

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