NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Former National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest yesterday compared the possible abuse of marijuana to alcohol as he cautioned its usage as The Bahamas seeks to regulate the substance.
A preliminary report by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana recommended Bahamians own 51 percent of the industry in a legalized framework.
The BNCM 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.
In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, Turnquest stopped short of providing his support for or against the regulation of the substance.
“I think that this whole issue of marijuana usage should be considered in the debate that we talk about alcohol usage and some of the problems that we have as a result of alcoholic abuse, I think we have to think about that,” he said.
“The one thing I do want to say is as a (former) member of Parliament, it pained me to see some of the challenges that young men had from minor indiscretions early in their lives.
“Now whether the legalization or the decriminalization or the introduction of this marijuana will solve that, I think the jury is still out on that.
“If we legalize it as alcohol has been legalized as an example, there will have to be some serious education to prevent the abuse of it and so I caution it from that point of view.
“We’ve seen what alcohol has done to some people and we’d hate to see weed fall in that same category.”
According to the commission’s report, law enforcement arrested 6,809 people in The Bahamas for marijuana possession between 2014 and 2018.
Of those arrests, the vast majority were associated with marijuana possession solely.
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.
The BNCM report has not been completed and remains under review by the commission.