Govt to move on marijuana law

AG says bill to reach House by year’s end

Attorney General Ryan Pinder said yesterday the government intends 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.

“This legislation is internationally benchmarked against the countries around the world in the industry,” said Pinder during the budget debate in the Senate.

“The 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.

“We will also provide a framework for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis products.”

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) promised to address the issue in its “Our Blueprint for Change”.

It committed to encouraging joint ventures in the medicinal cannabis industry.

The party said it would “ensure that all Bahamians are given full access to development, and have a fair opportunity to become owners in this new industry”.

Additionally, the PLP said it would “develop robust regulations to strictly monitor and minimize the impact on our international reputation”.

Former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis also promised to move forward with legislation for medicinal cannabis. He never did.

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, appointed in October 2018 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 is 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.

The commission recommended that the prescription of cannabis be treated the same as any other psychoactive drug.

It also recommended that people who are prescribed cannabis for medical use be allowed to grow sufficient plants (at various stages of growth) to ensure that they have access to the amount of product for their condition, and where they are not capable to grow the plant themselves, to allow a licensed relative or caregiver, over the age of 21 years, to grow the quantity of plants they need.

Additionally, it recommended that the necessary amendments be made to the act to maintain that possession of cannabis is illegal for recreational use, but to decriminalize the possession of small amounts, and that the amount of cannabis that a person over the age of 21 can possess for personal use, and not receive a criminal record, be one ounce.

It is not yet known whether the Davis administration intends to fully adopt the recommendations of the commission which reported under the former administration.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant 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 assistant news editor in December 2018.

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