Cannabis bill should be ready for public consultation soon, AG says 

Attorney General Ryan Pinder said a draft bill to regulate the cannabis industry should be ready for public consultation within the next month.

“I can let you know that all of the pieces of legislation have been drafted along with the regulations and respective orders and the legislation encompasses a number of amendments in a number of areas,” said Pinder at an Office of the Prime Minister press briefing last Thursday.

“For instance, the Pharmacy Act has to be amended because you’re dealing with dispensary items and all of that. We’ve made all of those amendments in draft form.

“We’ve prepared a presentation that will go to Cabinet within the next two to three weeks that will explain the framework of what we are looking to do with respect to the regulation of medicinal cannabis.

“Then, [we will] seek Cabinet’s approval to go to public consultation, which will naturally be rather extensive on such an important piece of legislative framework. That consultation will happen and will launch probably in a month, month and a half.”

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) 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.

In September 2022, Agriculture Minister Clay Sweeting said he expected the bill to 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 Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, appointed in October 2018, under the Minnis administration and co-chaired by former Deputy Commissioner of Police Quinn McCartney and Bishop Simeon Hall, presented its report to then-Prime Minister Minnis on August 31, 2021, two weeks before the general election in which voters removed Minnis and the Free National Movement from office.

A key recommendation from the commission was that the necessary amendments be made to the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) that will facilitate the legalization and regulation of cannabis for medical purposes and provide for the proper regulation as it relates to cultivation, processing and distribution of cannabis and cannabis-based products for people prescribed to utilize cannabis for medical purposes.

When he spoke about the draft bill in the Senate last year, Pinder said, “We will also provide a framework for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis products.”

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the news editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to news editor in January 2023.

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