“Let’s deal with what should not be a controversial issue”, says Pintard
Minister: “The longer we wait, the longer we miss opportunities”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Michael Pintard said yesterday that he intends to lobby Cabinet to move forward with plans to cultivate industrial hemp and CBD in The Bahamas.
Pintard’s comments come amid longstanding public debate over the government’s plans to decriminalize cannabis in The Bahamas following more than two years of consultation and a preliminary report by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana.
When asked about the matter during a press conference on his ministry’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pintard said the marijuana issue is under the purview of the prime minister and the commission.
He noted however that the opportunities for industrial hemp, a variety of cannabis sativa used for industrial uses of its derived products, and CBD, derived from the hemp plant, is non-controversial and advantageous.
“That is something that has massive potential,” Pintard said.
“We’ve had numerous meetings on it with investors, Bahamians and otherwise with respect to industrial hemp.
“That is not what you smoke. You don’t get high…It is used to produce a wide range of everyday products that you and I would use.
“It is my intention to ask Cabinet that we proceed in terms of separating that until the question of cannabis has been settled.”
The minister noted that similar opportunities exist for the cultivation of CBD — a nonintoxicating cannabinoid found in the plant.
He said: “We need to move on the things that are not controversial to a large extent, that have the potential to generate revenue, that others are taking advantage of, and the longer we wait for the longer we miss opportunities.”
The commission’s preliminary report on marijuana was leaked to the media in January and later tabled in Parliament in early February.
Among its 24 recommendations, the BNCM has advised the government to allow that prescribed medical cannabis to be able to grow sufficient plants for their use; to allow tourists who are prescribed medical cannabis in their countries to obtain it in The Bahamas, and to allow the importation of regulated cannabis products for ailments.
Cannabis possession would be decriminalized up to one ounce or less for personal use for people 21 years or older and laws would be amended for the immediate expungement of small possession criminal records.
The commission stopped short of recommending the legalization of recreational marijuana, insisting that the issue needs to be explored further before a consensus can be garnered.
Its final report was expected to be presented following a national survey to codify the views of the Bahamian public on the matter, however, the local spread of the virus has stalled the commission’s work.
Eyewitness News reported on Wednesday that the commission will perform an extensive review on the 24 recommendations as part of its final report.
Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana Co-Chair Quinn McCartney said: “So, we will be looking at that in much more detail, those recommendations where there was clear support, certainly from the commissioners.”
He continued: “The commissioners are relooking at these 24 recommendations to provide more substance to what we have recommended in our preliminary report, supported by additional information that we may obtain, [and] certainly, information that we hope to garner from our survey.
“We definitely still want to do the survey even though it may take a different [direction] in terms of how it is administered this time because of COVID-19 and the safety protocols.”
The commission has been reconstituted until the end of June 2021.
Attorney General Carl Bethel told Eyewitness News recently that draftspersons were working on marijuana legislation.