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Commission recommends creation of marijuana authority to regulate industry

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, in a preliminary report, recommends the establishment of a National Marijuana Licensing Authority to regulate the marijuana industry in The Bahamas.

The report, which was obtained by The Nassau Guardian, advises the government to “establish a licensing authority or drug council, clearly defining its role and removing arbitrary power from the minister [of health]”.

It notes that the government would appoint a board that would report to the minister of health.

According to the report, which has not been finalized yet, the licensing authority “would properly regulate all matters relating to drugs, primarily focusing on cannabis”.

The authority would also provide requirements for operators as well as “provide various [types] of Indian Hemp licenses (e.g. possession by tourists, cultivation, dispensaries, pharmacies, etc).”

It also recommends that the government “establish a National Marijuana Licensing Authority, staffed with competent persons to effectively administer and govern the application process for licenses, MM (medical cannabis) Cards, cultivation, and inspection of grow sites, etc.”

“Persons granted MM Cards should be confidential,” it notes.

“Persons granted approval as cultivators and cultivators for patients should be confidential.”

The document also suggests amending legislation to make provisions for tourists to purchase a license for the possession and usage of marijuana.

The draft report, which was obtained by The Nassau Guardian, recommends the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of up to one ounce of the substance.

Individuals over 21 should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes, according to the report, which also recommends that anyone over 18 be allowed to use the substance for medicinal purposes.

In July 2018, the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana recommended the declassification of marijuana as a dangerous drug in all legislation and the reclassification of the drug as a controlled substance, noting it should be treated similarly to tobacco and alcohol.

One month later, Cabinet approved the makeup of a commission tasked with examining the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas in order to make recommendations to the government. Its recommendations are expected to be tabled and discussed in Parliament.

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana was initially given until April to submit its findings.

However, it has been granted several extensions.

It is unclear when the document will be finalized.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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