Marijuana commission hopes to complete nationwide survey by year’s end

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana will likely complete its nationwide survey on marijuana by the end of the year, according to Co-Chairman Quinn McCartney.

“The commission will be meeting again very shortly and we want to do some stuff before the end of the year,” McCartney told The Nassau Guardian.

“I just want to say that the survey is in motion. Finally, the long-awaited survey is actually [in motion]. I spoke with the company that has the contract and they confirmed to me that they started last week.

“So, we want that process to be completed and then see the findings of the survey, so that we can also incorporate more of the views of the Bahamian public and the results of our survey…”

McCartney said Public Domain was selected to conduct the survey.

He said the commission has been given “assurances” that the data collection will be done by the end of the year.

“They’re using electronic means of communicating with persons who they will randomly select,” McCartney said.

“You know, our intent was to do a door-to-door [survey], which would’ve been a little more costly and time-consuming.

“In light of the pandemic and need for social distancing and all that stuff, we’ve gone with Public Domain’s methodology; and based on our research and speaking with persons in the field, it will be statistically reliable, and we will be able to draw some conclusions and get a good feel of what the Bahamian people think about this topic.”

He said the survey is needed in order for the commission to complete its final report.

“We are working diligently to try to get that done as quickly as possible,” McCartney said.

“We know the prime minister is anxious for us to try to get a report back to him and we don’t want to stretch this a day more than we have to.”

In its preliminary report, the commission recommended the legalization of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of up to one ounce of the substance.

The report also noted that more data needs to be explored to enable the commission to come to a consensus on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the Economic Recovery Committee has recommended the full legalization of marijuana for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes, coupled with an appropriate regime that oversees production, sales and export.

The committee made a number of recommendations for the rebuilding of the economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Minnis did not indicate whether the government will move to legalize marijuana, he said the government will begin expunging records of those convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana next year.

Minnis also noted that a hemp industry is being considered.

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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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