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Making ready

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources is preparing for a medicinal marijuana industry in anticipation of The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s finalized report.

Noting a “keen interest in industrial hemp”, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said yesterday his ministry has already received proposals from people wishing to cultivate marijuana for commercial use.

In its preliminary report, which was viewed by The Nassau Guardian, the commission recommends the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of up to one ounce of the substance.

The document also proposes that Bahamians have “ownership” of the cannabis industry.

“Once the decision is made, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, we are making the necessary preparation in the event that there is any determination made with respect to medicinal marijuana or non-stimulant hemp, which is used for industrial purposes,” Pintard said.

“We are making the necessary preparation to become familiar with the legislative regime that exists in other countries. We are in the process of looking at what the various policy positions might be, and what role the Bahamian entrepreneurs might assume unilaterally by themselves or in conjunction with a strategic partner who may be from overseas in how to pursue industrial hemp, or their by-products in terms of cultivation or industrial preparation.”

Pintard added, “With regards to medicinal marijuana, I’m not going to pre-empt what is recommended. The role of the Department [of Agriculture] and its organ is simply to explore what has been done legislatively elsewhere, what has been done, what are the policy options and how to ensure that Bahamians are empowered as a priority in the event that there is determination made.

“So, we are simply making ready.”

However, he could not confirm whether government intends to engage in marijuana exports.

“At this juncture, we do not know what the government’s intention is as the report has not yet been released,” Pintard said.

“I think in various jurisdictions, ministries of agriculture simply do their due diligence so that they can prepare the sector in the event that there is a favorable outcome from: one, the recommendation; two, the adoption of those recommendations by government.

“Because the committee might recommend something, the report might recommend something that the government may or may not be prepared to pursue so, we’re simply making preparation in the event that any aspect of it is approved.”

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana was initially given until April to submit its findings, however, it has been granted several extensions since then.

In November, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said that the commission expects to present its final report to Cabinet in early January, however, it is unclear at this time if that deadline will be met.

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