MANDATE FULFILLED: Final report on marijuana legalization coming “shortly” as commission’s tenure ends

MANDATE FULFILLED: Final report on marijuana legalization coming “shortly” as commission’s tenure ends

“The contributions that we will make to the discourse…hopefully will be instructive to those who see fit to use it”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s (BNCM) mandate ended last month, said Co-Chairman Quinn McCartney, who indicated he is pleased with what it managed to accomplish in its tenure.

Cabinet approved the formation of the commission in July 2018 to gauge public opinion on cannabis.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, McCartney said: “We are pleased that we are nearing the end of our tenure in the sense that the contributions that we will make to the discourse or have made and continue to make based on the contents of our report, hopefully, will be instructive to those who see fit to use it.”

Marijuana Commission Co-chair Quinn McCartney. (FILE PHOTO)

He noted that despite the numerous delays, including challenges brought by the global coronavirus pandemic, the entire ordeal has been “an interesting journey”, with many of the commissioners becoming more knowledgeable about the issue.

A preliminary report by the commission was leaked to the media in January 2020 and later tabled in Parliament in early February 2020.

Among the 24 recommendations in that report were recommendations that the government allow those prescribed medical cannabis to grow sufficient plants for their use; allow tourists who are prescribed medical cannabis in their countries to obtain it in The Bahamas; and allow the importation of regulated cannabis products for ailments.

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 is expected to be turned over to the prime minister “shortly”, according to McCartney.

Although that report has not been completed, the government has already drafted legislation for the regulation of a local cannabis industry, including a proposed Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2021, and the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which were leaked to the media.

The prime minister has said the bill that was leaked is not the final version, signaling it has been revised to include dispensaries as one of the distribution sites for cannabis — a provision that would see greater Bahamian participation and ownership.

McCartney indicated there has been sufficient information gained during the BNCM’s research stage, along with regional models of cannabis regulation, and the next steps will be for the government to pass legislation and then establish the governing bodies that will be responsible for regulation, enforcement and application of directives.

About Sloan Smith Sloan has spent the past four years as a lead news writer immersed in the field, covering a range of investigative breaking news developments. She produces daily salient pieces on natural disasters, crime, politics, policy, human-interest, and socioeconomic realities.