NASSAU, BAHAMAS- The Bahamas must eradicate the marijuana ‘black market’ to protect the economic viability and integrity of a legalized industry, according to one local advocate.
According to Terry Miller, head of the Bahamas Cannabis Research Institute (BACARI), protecting minors from drug abuse is also a serious concern.
Miller weighed in on the preliminary report by the Bahamas National Commission.
“At BACARI one of our greatest concerns is how we protect our children,” he said.
“I’m glad to see them saying the minimum age is 21 for recreational use. That is good. The only challenge is going to be and I do not have the answers but I have some ideas as to how we protect project our children.
“The only way to really do that is if we cut out the black market. How can we legislate this in such a way that the black market ceases to exist.”
Miller continued: “If the black market continues we will have problems with our children getting access. If it is legal and the black market exist I’m not going to risk my license selling to a child but the black armlet doesn’t care.
“In running a drug program as I do I know for a fact that 70 percent of the people who come in started using some form of drugs at the age 8-12.
“How is that happening if is illegal. It’s illegal now and it’s accessible. If it is legalized properly we can protect the children. That is critical. That is going to be a bit challenging.”
The BNC report has insisted that Bahamians should own 51 percent of the industry in a legalized framework. That preliminary report, which was leaked to the media, features recommendations from various subcommittees on the medical, economic, religious and recreational use of cannabis in The Bahamas. The BNC also recommended a set cannabis tax not exceeding ten per cent.
According to the report, the industry/economic sub-committee has recommended that the Bahamas must have ownership of the cannabis industry so that Bahamians “can have their share of the pie”.
A key recommendation is the industry not be taxed heavily and that a corporate tax can be imposed at a rate of 5 -10per cent that is to be reviewed annually or biannually.
It was also recommended that recreational cannabis only be permitted for adults over 21 years, and medicinal cannabis should be permitted for adults over 18 years of age.
It was further recommended that Wellness Centres (cannabis dispensaries) be -owned by entrepreneurs; and be permitted to issue and fill medicinal cannabis prescriptions and that a tracking system be implemented so that the cannabis receive a sticker and bar code, be tracked as a sprout, through to finished packaging, onto the laboratory to be quality tested and then for distribution and sale.
It was also recommended that a National Cannabis Regulatory Board be established. That board would be independent and non-partisan; transparent; provide oversight; a suitable licensing scheme; and funded by the taxation of the industries and from law enforcement.
Rasta Camps would also serve as a tour site for tourists, the report suggested.
Miller told Eyewitness News Online he does not support the idea of individuals having the ability to grow marijuana.
“It should be the way alcohol was when it was legislated. They shut down all of the illegal distills and allowed the industry to develop.
“If the industry isn’t allowed to develop the financial growth that can be had won’t be released. The industry can be monitored but monitoring every citizen is too much. “