Marijuana commission says revisit recreational usage after years of decriminalization

Marijuana commission says revisit recreational usage after years of decriminalization
Prime Minister Minnis Dr. Hubert Minnis

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana has stopped short of recommending the legalization of recreational marijuana insisting that the issue needs to be explored further before a consensus can be garnered.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday tabled the commission’s final preliminary report in Parliament yesterday.

“Some commissioners were not prepared, at this time, to recommend the legalization of cannabis for recreational use,” the report said.

“While Canada recently legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, as well as several states in the US, these commissioners are of the view that there is insufficient information to assess the full societal impact of moving in this direction.

“Some commissioners therefore recommended that more research be done, and additional data be obtained to make an informed and responsible decision on the legalization of recreational use of cannabis at this time.

“It is also suggested that if cannabis possession is decriminalized in The Bahamas, comprehensive data be collected over the next few years to determine the societal impact this will have on drug prevalence, crime and other social issues.

“After this information is collected and analyzed, it is suggested that this issue be revisited.”

The report noted acknowledged that the recommendation to decriminalize up to one once of cannabis is in effect a form of legalization of recreational use.

“It is recognized that this poses a paradox, as decriminalization on its own does not provide a legitimate and legal means for persons to obtain their supply of cannabis,” the commission added.

“It is appreciated that decriminalization may further facilitate the already existing illegal black market for persons to obtain cannabis, which has its inherent law enforcement challenges.

“…If, alternatively, provisions are made for regulated facilities to supply less than an ounce to persons 21 years and older in an attempt to eradicate or reduce the black market, this is in effect the legalization of the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.”

The report indicated that commissioners were split on this very issue and could not come to a consensus.

Other commissioner supported the moved, vying for cannabis to be legalized for recreational use for persons 21 years and older. 

Additionally, those commissions are of the view that this move  will reduce the inherent criminal activities associated with the black market and will provide avenues for cannabis users to get better products from legitimate sources.

“This group of commissioners are also of the view that the revenue generated from the sale of cannabis for recreational cannabis will provide enormous economic benefits for The Bahamas,” the report added.

Among its 24 recommendations, the BNCM has advised the government to allow those prescribed medical cannabis to be able to grow sufficient plants for their use; to allow tourists who are prescribed medical cannabis in their countries to obtain it in The Bahamas; and to allow the importation of regulated cannabis products for ailments.

Cannabis possession would be decriminalized up to one once or less for personal use for people 21 years or older and laws would be amended for the immediate expungement of small possession criminal records.

Additionally, Rastafarians and other religious groups who use the substance as a sacrament would be allowed to possess, cultivate and use it for sacramental purposes.

“The commission is mindful that the recommendations within its final report, and any subsequent decisions made by the government of The Bahamas, will have far-reaching implications for The Bahamas,” the report concluded.

“The commission advises in light of same that the nation proceed with prudence, practicality and caution.

“It is opined, however, that caution, skepticism or apprehension should not paralyze the nation into inaction, thereby allowing the cannabis-related issue to linger indefinitely.”