NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana has green-lighted recreational and medicinal marijuana, insisting that Bahamians should own 51 percent of the industry in a legalized framework.
The 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.
Several parts of the report have not yet been completed and remain under review by the commission.
“The Bahamas must have ownership of the cannabis industry so that Bahamians can have their share of the pie,” the report states.
“Fifty-one percent ownership by Bahamians in private companies, that will be allowed to partner with a foreign company who can only hold a maximum of 49 percent equity.
“Recreational Cannabis should be permitted for adults over 21 years, and medicinal Cannabis should be permitted for adults over 18 years of age.”
The commission further recommends that the substance be decriminalized and persons be allowed to have a maximum of one ounce of the substance in their possession without prosecution.
“The allowable one ounce of Cannabis may be subject to increase after a review of implementation of this recommendation”, the report notes.
However, the commission’s Public Relations and Education Subcommittee recommended that the country hold off on regulating recreational use because “there is not enough known”.
“It is posed that for the time being, without a survey and a large scale national
educational campaign on Cannabis, that the country move forward on the use of cannabis in other areas, because there is not enough known,” the subcommittee stated.
“We have not completed a fact-finding mission to Canada as planned, nor implemented much of the media plan.
“At this juncture, it would be ill-advised to move ahead with other plans until the Bahamian people are given more information. This is not to say that in the near future other aspects, such as, industrial, and recreational uses will not be considered. We simply recommend that the country take a cautious and more informed approach with regards to other aspects of the Cannabis question.”
Following the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in July 2018, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the government was establishing a committee to gauge public opinion on cannabis.
The directive came after 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 prime minister has since confirmed his support of decriminalization in several interviews despite previously indicating he did want to force his personal views on the public.
Last month, Minnis called marijuana reform a matter of social justice as he reiterated his support for decriminalizing possession of small amounts and expunging convictions.
The commission’s report recommends the amendment of the Dangerous Drug Act to administer and govern the medicinal use of Cannabis and proposes the creation of the necessary regulations to govern the act “as soon as practicable”.
It further recommends that Rastafarians be allowed to utilize the drug under a regulated framework.
For the way forward, the commission notes that after submitting the preliminary report, a survey will commence to garner the views of Bahamians on the implementation of Cannabis use in The Bahamas.
The survey will be conducted by the Department of Statistics.