Keep medical marijuana industry for Bahamians – says poll

Keep medical marijuana industry for Bahamians – says poll

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Fifty-six percent of respondents who participated in an August 2018 Public Domain survey believe that a legalized medical marijuana industry in The Bahamas should be reserved exclusively for Bahamians.

The survey conducted by the Bahamian market and opinion research was done just weeks after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis returned from a CARICOM heads of government meeting and announced that the government would establish a committee to gauge public opinion on marijuana.

The Regional Commission on Marijuana presented its report to CARICOM, putting forward the view that in a regulated framework marijuana should be treated similarly to tobacco and alcohol.

The report also estimated that The Bahamas could see a financial benefit of around $5 million annually from legalization and regulation of the substance.

Public Domain conducted a telephone survey between August 9  and August 20, 2018.

Nine hundred and ninety-eight respondents throughout The Bahamas (pre-Hurricane Dorian) were interviewed.

While 56 percent of respondents believed in exclusive ownership of the market, 23 percent believed it should be developed by foreign companies; eight percent said they needed more information and 13 percent opted not to answer.

Respondents were asked: “Recently the government said they are examining legalizing medical marijuana. Some have suggested bringing in foreign companies to help develop the market should it become legal. Do you think that this industry should be guided by foreign companies or should this be reserved exclusively for Bahamians?”

Of those surveyed on Grand Bahama, sixty-one percent said they wanted the industry reserved for Bahamians, 19 percent sided with foreign development,14 percent had no answer and five percent needed more information.

Fifty-two percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 opted in favor of Bahamian ownership along with 58 percent of respondents between the ages of 35 and 54 and 55 and over.

The survey showed similar ranges of support for a Bahamianized market for those in different income groups making between less than $30,000 annually and more than $60,000 annually.

In its preliminary report, obtained by Eyewitness News last month, The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana recommended that marijuana be decriminalized and persons be allowed to have a maximum of one ounce of the substance in their possession without prosecution.

The commission also puts forth recommendations for medicinal, recreational and sacramental use of the substance and insisted that that Bahamians should own 51 percent of the industry in a legalized framework.

The BNCM is expected to present the prime minister with its official report today.

Minnis has confirmed his support of decriminalization in several interviews despite previously indicating he did want to force his personal views on the public.

Last month, he called marijuana reform a matter of social justice as he reiterated his support for decriminalizing possession of small amounts and expunging convictions.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.