BAHAMIAN OWNERSHIP: PM reveals Medicinal Cannabis Bill revised to include dispensaries

BAHAMIAN OWNERSHIP: PM reveals Medicinal Cannabis Bill revised to include dispensaries
(FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said an earlier version of the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2021, which was leaked to the media, has been revised to include dispensaries as one of the distributes sites for cannabis — a provision that would see greater Bahamian participation and ownership.

The prime minister said he was unaware which version of the bill had been leaked, but noted that it has not yet been completed.

“There were some concerns and Cabinet will get the final draft presumably today, so that we can review over the weekend, and hopefully have it ready for tabling on Wednesday,” he said.

“However, there is a clause in there [for] dispensaries because we wanted to ensure that it is not limited to pharmacists, just one group of individuals.

“We wanted to ensure that whatever is done, it’s open for all Bahamian so that they can participate and create new wealth, new entrepreneurs, new ownership etc.

“And with the ownership of the dispensaries, Bahamians can participate — 100 percent ownership — without pharmacists per se.”

He added: “…It is an opportunity for everybody to apply and become involved.”

An earlier version of the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2021, provides for the establishment of a Medicinal Cannabis Authority, which would develop policies and guidelines to regulate the medicinal cannabis industry and issue various licenses.

A citizen of The Bahamas must be 21 or over to apply for a license to handle cannabis.

Licenses range from cultivation, import, export, manufacturing, research and transport, according to the bill.

Cannabis cultivated in or imported into The Bahamas shall only be sold on a commercial basis for research for medicinal use.

Cannabis materials or cannabis products manufactured or imported into The Bahamas, shall only be sold on a commercial basis for research or medicinal use.

Cannabis, its materials, products or medicinal cannabis shall only be exported from The Bahamas on a commercial basis for research of medicinal use.

According to the bill, the holder of a cultivation license shall also receive an import license valid for the import of cannabis or medicinal cannabis planting material.

Meanwhile, a research license shall also receive an import license and an export license which shall only be used for purposes in connection with the research license.

The authority will determine whether to grant or refuse any license.

The duration of each license will last three years and cost a non-refundable license fee of $10,000 per license, with each additional license costing $1,500.

A license must be renewed within one month of the expiration of the license.

If the renewal is made within one month of the expiration, a late fee of $1,500 will be applied.

It would cost $750 to vary the license.

A medical practitioner may prescribe medicinal cannabis to a patient, their caregiver designated or their guardian appointed under the Mental Health Act.

In the instance of a person below the age of 21, a medical practitioner can prescribe medicinal cannabis to their parent of legal guardian for use.

When a patient no longer suffers from the medical condition for which the cannabis was prescribed, the “medicinal cannabis prescribed is no longer therapeutic or palliative in the treatment of the patient for the medical condition for which the medicinal cannabis was prescribed”.

A patient who is a visitor to The Bahamas may purchase and possess medicinal cannabis in The Bahamas if that patient is in possession of a prescription issued by a medical practitioner and has a valid permit.

A pharmacist shall only dispense medicinal cannabis on the presentation by a patient or caregiver of a prescription of a medical practitioner and valid form of identification.

The pharmacist would not be permitted to issue more than a 30-day supply.

According to the bill, the minister of health may restrict the sale, supply, cultivation, import or manufacture of certain strains of medicinal cannabis or cannabis by an order.