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‘No harm from hemp industry’

Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana Co-Chairman Quinn McCartney said yesterday that the legalization of a hemp industry in The Bahamas poses “no danger” to the public.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the government is considering the legalization of a hemp industry.

The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) said it opposes the move, claiming it will do nothing to solve the country’s problems.

Yesterday, when reached for comment, McCartney said, “The hemp industry poses no danger to the Bahamian public in terms of being used for smoking or for any kind of psychotic thing or any kind of buzz.

“…That is an industry that will not, in my opinion, harm the Bahamian economy. It’s not an industry that will cause any social issues.”

He said there appears to be “some misunderstanding” about the hemp industry.

“Some people, they look at hemp, cannabis and marijuana and they kind of just lump everything together, but that’s a different strain,” McCartney said.

“That’s a different species of the plant.”

He said the recreational use of hemp would be of “very little benefit” because of its low THC content. 

The commission recommended the legalization of medicinal marijuana.

In a recent statement, BCC President Bishop Delton Fernander said the council does not “believe that the solution to the challenges we face as a country lies within the establishment of a hemp industry or in marijuana”.

“We fought for years to remove the stain the drug industry left on the reputation of our country,” he said.

“We should therefore steer clear of any invitation to repeat that dark and devastating period. We also believe that now, more than ever, we should invest more into programs and initiatives that advance and uplift our people, most especially our youth, instead of harmful initiatives that could lead to their defeat and destruction.”

Fernander and Bahamas Faith Ministries Senior Pastor Dave Burrows also called for a referendum on the issue of marijuana legalization in The Bahamas.

The Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) recommended the full legalization of marijuana for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes, coupled with an appropriate regime that oversees production, sales and export.

The ERC listed the legalization of marijuana as a “transformative initiative”, noting it would “end the punitive impact on young Bahamians; to free up public law enforcement and judicial resources; and to provide a lucrative niche within the agricultural and leisure commercial segments”.

Minnis said the ERC and the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana both indicate that The Bahamas’ marijuana laws are outdated and must change.

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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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