NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Citizens for Justice Bahamas (CFJB) Chairman Bishop Walter Hanchell yesterday put forth the NGOs support for medicinal marijuana, but insisted that it will not support recreational marijuana in The Bahamas.
In a statement, the group also expressed its support for the expunging of records of people who have been convicted for possession of small amounts of the substance.
However, CFJB noted that it will not allow the government to “ram” recreational usage of the substance down its throats, as was done with gambling referendum.
The comments follow the premature release of a preliminary report by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, which recommended that the substance be decriminalized and persons be allowed to have a maximum of one ounce of the substance in their possession without prosecution.
The BNCM report has not been completed and remains under review by the commission.
“While we support the use of marijuana for medicinal use, with proper regulation, we do not support recreational marijuana,” the group said.
“Most of our politicians and some of our pastors with very liberal views are willing to sacrifice our young people and cause further destruction to the moral fabric of The Bahamas.
“If legislation is passed in favor of recreational marijuana, we can expect higher marijuana usage among young people, a spike in criminal activity and increased social ills.
“Additionally, there will be a greater burden on health care and social services.”
CFJB is calling on the government to begin a national education program on marijuana before the findings of the BNCM is debated in Parliament.
“The people must have their voices heard on this important issue,” the statement continued.
“We will not allow the government to ram this down our throats as was done by the former PLP administration after losing the gambling referendum.”
The group also noted that The Bahamas National Drug Council and the National Anti-Drug Secretariat have been silent on the matter, despite years of educating the nation on the dangers of marijuana and fighting drug addiction.
It added that it also awaits the position and recommendations of the Bahamas Christian Council on the matter.
“Everything America and Europe does, our leaders somehow believe that they are obligated to follow,” the group said.
“They have no vision for a prosperous, godly and safe Bahamas.
“We do not need to follow the crowd, nor should we as a nation allow ourselves to be bullied or intimidated by the united Nations, the European Union, the United States or any of their agencies.
“The Bahamas must truly remain a sovereign nation under God and different from other nations.”
CFJB insisted that the government did not need a commission to tell them something that they had already predetermined to do.
“We in the CFJB are disappointed with the hypocrisy in both the FNM and PLP on this marijuana issue,” the statement added.
“…We urge members of Parliament to properly represent the people who elected them to serve and look out for the interests of their constituents and not the political agenda of the government.
“Your day of reckoning in 2022 is fast approaching.
“We anxiously look forward to the debate in Parliament after consultation with their constituents.”
Last month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis called marijuana reform a matter of social justice as he reiterated his support for decriminalizing possession of small amounts and expunging convictions for possession of small quantities.