Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday suggested that a pending report by the Bahamas Marijuana Commission will “no doubt” be similar to a report done by CARICOM.
In July 2018, 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.
Minnis told The Nassau Guardian, “I am well versed with the report that came out of CARICOM. I think everybody is versed with CARICOM’s report where CARICOM basically supports the way forward but we wanted to do our own report.
“I have no doubt that our report will be similar to that of CARICOM.”
The prime minister also expressed support for the decriminalization of marijuana.
“I think there are many young people, especially those poor, middle-classed individuals who may have been caught with just a joint or whatever and they subsequently develop criminal records,” Minnis said.
“It interferes with their education. It interferes with their job. It interferes with their advancement in life and that grouping, in particular, is disadvantaged.”
He said the government should not allow young people to be “marginalized or excluded from making a contribution to society” because of laws prohibiting marijuana in the country.
Minnis pointed to the medical benefits of the marijuana plant.
“It would be wrong for any doctor to deny a patient access to whatever type of medical care that is available,” he said.
“I think medical marijuana for medical purposes should definitely be allowed so that we can improve individuals’ health and even give them a better outlook in life and give them a better opportunity to improve their health [a]nd continue to make contributions to society.”
In August 2018, Cabinet approved the makeup of a committee that will examine the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas and make recommendations to the government.
Its recommendations will then be tabled and discussed in Parliament.
Twenty-five individuals were appointed to the commission late last year.
Bishop Simeon Hall and Former Deputy Commissioner of Police Quinn McCartney are co-chairmen of the commission.
A report by the commission is expected to be submitted in January.
Minnis said the marijuana issue is one he intends to discuss at Cabinet as well as with the public.
“I think once you do that, it is essential for us to have the proper legislative framework and regulations in place and we adhere to it,” he said.
“We have to be guided by those countries that [have] gone through it before, for example Canada, so they can assist us with putting forth the legislative framework and moving forward.”
If marijuana is decriminalized, the government will embark on a “vigorous” education campaign, Minnis said.
He said the campaign will be aimed at different sectors of society, including high school students.
“I think education is very, very important,” the prime minister said.
“We must advance or commence some educational process so that our young people, our families, everyone would understand the whole process, understand what we’re doing, understand how it may benefit you, etc.
“The problems with society is not necessarily marijuana or alcohol. The problem is the upbringing.”
He noted that some parents give their young children alcohol thus leading the children to get “hooked on those things”.
Minnis said there needs to be a cultural change in The Bahamas.