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PM ‘very disturbed’ by leak of marijuana commission report

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday he was “very disturbed” and “upset” when a preliminary report by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana was leaked to The Nassau Guardian last month, noting that it compromised his Cabinet and the commission.

“I haven’t seen the report yet,” Minnis said.

He added, “[I] was very disturbed that the report had leaked out. I was very disturbed because it compromised my Cabinet colleagues and myself. The press made statements. They asked us questions. We could not respond because we didn’t see it.”

In July 2018, the 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.

One month later, Cabinet approved the makeup of a commission, which was under the purview of the Ministry of Health, tasked with examining the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas in order to make recommendations to the government. Its recommendations are expected to be tabled and discussed in Parliament.

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana was initially given until April 2019 to submit its findings.

It has been granted several extensions.

Yesterday, Minnis said Cabinet was still waiting for the official report when the document was leaked in December.

“We were not privy to any leaked document,” he said.

“We were waiting for the official document so we were compromised. So, I was upset and I brought that commission into the Office of the Prime Minister where I can globally tie everything.

“And they were just as upset as I was that the document, uncompleted, was leaked out because they may have made amendments and whatever.”

The commission’s preliminary report proposes the expungement of all police records reflecting possessions of small amounts of cannabis.

It also recommends the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of up to one ounce of the substance.

The report proposes that individuals over 21 should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes. It also recommends that anyone over 18 be allowed to use the substance for medicinal purposes.

The press will be invited to the commission’s presentation of the final report to the prime minister, Minnis said.

“The report [will] subsequently be tabled in Parliament at which time you will get a copy of the report, not this leaked out whatever it is,” he said.

“I don’t know what was in that. I don’t know what’s the content of what was leaked out, alright? But you will have a copy of the official report. And then, our official position will be known and we will do what is necessary.”

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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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