Marijuana commission to complete final report early in new year

Marijuana commission to complete final report early in new year
Marijuana Commission Co-chair Quinn McCartney. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Just over two years after its appointment, the Bahamas National Commission of Marijuana could complete and submit its final report on the issue of cannabis in The Bahamas early in the new year, according to commission co-chair Quinn McCartney.

The commission was appointed in October 2018.

In its preliminary report, the commission recommended the substance be decriminalized, and regularized for medicinal and religious use.

It stopped short of recommending legalization for recreational use, noting more data must be explored.

The commission’s work stalled amid the onset of the ongoing pandemic.

It commissioned a national survey on the issue earlier this year following widespread consultation and was awaiting the results.

Yesterday, McCartney said the survey was completed and the commission expects to review it within the first week of January.

“We’re just awaiting to have a final look at the results of the survey in terms of not only the accompany[ing] results but it will give us the raw data in terms of the persons who responded,” he told Eyewitness News.

“And so, once we get that the commission will have a look at that and we will incorporate those results in our final report to the prime minister and to the government.

“That’s basically where we are now in terms of what we are actually doing.

“We are hoping early in the new year to get that information looked at, assessed and to incorporate it into our final report to the prime minister.”

Its final report could be submitted to Cabinet shortly thereafter.

According to the co-chair, the public’s expression via the survey is expected to be consistent with the widespread consultation and feedback solicited from the Bahamian public over the last two years.

In Parliament in November, Prime Minister Dr Hubert announced the government was reviewing the possible introduction of a regulated hemp industry.

He said the government will advise the public following greater consultation.

The prime minister has noted that The Bahamas’ cannabis laws are “outdated and must change”.

McCartney was asked whether the commission has charge of consultation on hemp.

“The commission is certainly looking at the pronouncements related to the hemp industry and we’ll get a look at exploring that,” he said.

Among its 24 recommendations in its preliminary report, the commission 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.

Expungement of young and first-time offenders has already begun via the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee.

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.