NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas National Marijuana Commission Co-Chair Quinn McCartney said while the commission still believes a hemp industry in The Bahamas is viable and could co-exist with a regulated cannabis industry, production of the non-intoxicating version of the plant may not be as lucrative.
Hemp is a strain of the plant that does not possess the intoxicating cannabinoid, THC, which is commonly associated with marijuana.
“The commission is certainly looking at the pronouncements pertaining to the hemp industry and getting a look at exploring that,” McCartney told Eyewitness News.
“It is an interesting commitment or pronouncement by the government on that.
“It is a viable industry. My information is that it is not as lucrative as the growth of marijuana for other products for medicinal use or recreational use, but certainly it is a viable industry.
“It is something that the commission, I think, has no objection to.
“The concern I would have expressed several months ago, after the Ministry of Agriculture would have made its comments, is the zoning of the industry, so that there is no competition between the two products.
“If we are going to go both ways, we need to look at, carefully look at, ensuring there is sufficient distance between growing the cannabis for the hemp industry and the cannabis for any other products, because there is cross-fertilization and the hemp strain tends to be dominant and could have an impact on the growth of the plant.”
According to McCartney, the commission will continue to follow developments locally and internationally on both issues.
In October, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said he intended to lobby Cabinet to move forward with plans to cultivate industrial hemp and CBD — a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the plant — in the nation.
In Parliament in late October, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said The Bahamas’ “cannabis laws [are] outdated and must change”.
At the time, he announced the government was reviewing the possible legalization of a hemp industry and will advise the public following greater public consultation.
The commission looked at both marijuana decriminalization and the cultivation of industrial hemp in its research.
In its preliminary report, the commission recommended cannabis be decriminalized, and regularized for medicinal and religious use.
Among the 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.
The commission’s final report is expected early in the new year.