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Police chief supports expungement of marijuana records

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said he supports the expungement of criminal records for individuals found with small amounts of marijuana.

“I think, you know, the simple thing is I support it,” Ferguson said when asked about the issue on Tuesday.

“Jesus forgives people and so why can’t we forgive people, particularly for those things that would hinder people from progressing? I support the initiative what is actually going on.”

His comments came after The Nassau Guardian revealed that a preliminary report by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana proposes the expungement of all police records reflecting possessions of small amounts of cannabis.

Although he supported this aspect of the draft report, Ferguson reminded the public that the report is only a recommendation and not the law.

“You know, until we get the direction from the law, you ought not smoke

marijuana,” he said.

“And those persons who do not understand that you ought not be smoking dope, you’ll be arrested.”

The report 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.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has expressed his support for expunging the criminal records of those convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

It should be noted that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee was established in September to review applications of first time and young offenders, who are defined as individuals under the age of 21 at the date of conviction.

It can expunge records for offenders convicted of possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply if the offender was found with a quantity of less than 10 pounds of Indian hemp, two pounds of cocaine or 20 grams of opium morphine and its salts including heroin.

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 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 to submit its findings.

However, it has been granted several extensions.

It is unclear when the document will be finalized.

‘Jesus forgives, so why can’t we?’

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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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