NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana has submitted its preliminary report, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands has confirmed.
The much-anticipated report is expected to address the medical, industrial, economic, religious and recreational use of cannabis, as well as research and development that would codify Bahamian attitudes on the substance.
The commission’s recommendations will be tabled and discussed in Parliament.
“We have received the preliminary report,” Sands told Eyewitness News.
“…And what we are going to do is, it will be considered by the Cabinet of The Bahamas, and we will ponder and consider the recommendations made by that hardworking committee, and then Cabinet will determine where we’re headed.
“At the appropriate time, as we present the findings, I think you will see interspersed some of the particular views, not necessarily of me, Duane Sands, the person, but of me as Minister of Health.”
Asked how soon Cabinet is expected to review the report, Sands said: “We recognize that this is a very much anticipated report and that the public is awaiting the results of that process.
“But I think the prime minister has made it very clear that the next step is going to be a discussion at Cabinet. The agenda, the timing of that matter on the Cabinet agenda is determined by one person – that’s the prime minister and at his pleasure it’s included on the agenda.
“I suspect that it will require a fair bit of time.”
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.
Asked yesterday about his views on the matter, Sands said, “I have very strong feelings about the issue of cannabis and marijuana, and I am not going to reveal what that is because ultimately I have had carriage of this whole process and I don’t think it would be reasonable for me to now insert my own personal views at this time.”
He continued: “It is very important that as a Cabinet member, my utterances have to be reflected of the views of Cabinet.
“…Whether I agree or don’t agree, at the end of the day I have been sworn to carry a message of mutual responsibility, shared responsibility and once we agree at the Cabinet table that this is The Bahamas’ position on cannabis or marijuana, I have no problem being a very strong advocate for that position.”