NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Davis yesterday called the prime minister’s recent proclamations of support toward cannabis reform, nothing more than “public relations gimmickry”.
During a press conference for the handover of the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s preliminary report, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis signaled that cannabis reform is on the horizon and expressed his support for the release of all prisoners incarcerated for the possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Asked about his thoughts on the prime minister’s comments, Davis told reporters: “I think that was again, PR, public relations gimmickry to suggest that he’s doing something that’s going to impact lives.
“But at the end of the day, if he wanted so do something that will impact lives, we know that persons with small amounts of marijuana are not usually sent to prison.”
Davis continued: “So perhaps what he should be considering, if he wants to do something for these persons, perhaps he should be engaging with the United States government, to discuss ways and means of facilitating them being able to now travel to the United States or facilitate them being able to get a visa to go the united states.
“That’s doing something to impact the lives of person who may fall into this category of persons having been convicted of small quantities of marijuana, but talking about releasing them from prison, that’s sophistry.”
Minnis has also hit out at Davis and PLP, insisting that while they claim to support marijuana reform, they did nothing when they were in office.
But Davis contended yesterday that, “this is false” and sought to set the record straight.
“It was the PLP who appointed Bishop Simeon Hall to the CARICOM Commission on marijuana,” he said.
“Yes, the same Bishop Hall who the FNM appointed to the Marijuana Commission.
“We must recall that it was CARICOM that initiated the movement to decriminalize and legalize the use of marijuana and in particular the use medicinal marijuana.
“We were a part of the creation of that commission as members of the CARICOM community.”
Davis further noted that the last Christie administration also amended the law to provide for a significant reduction in the timeline before criminal records are permanently expunged – including the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The legislation was unanimously passed in Parliament.
“This means that the whole process of marijuana reform, was started by the PLP,” he said.
In its preliminary report, obtained by Eyewitness News last month, the BNCM recommended that marijuana be decriminalized, and persons be allowed to have a maximum of one ounce of the substance in their possession without prosecution.
It also puts forth recommendations for medicinal, recreational and sacramental use of the substance.