NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The majority of respondents surveyed in a recent Public Domain poll supported Bahamians having 100 percent ownership in cannabis cultivation, production and distribution.
The survey, obtained by Eyewitness News, was conducted as part of the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s (BNCM) work to gauge the opinions of residents on cannabis and its related concerns.
It was conducted between November 24 and December 14, with 1,000 respondents across The Bahamas.
Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said cannabis cultivation should be 100 percent Bahamian-owned; 21 percent said it should be majority Bahamian-owned; and nine percent said the segment should be 50 percent Bahamian/50 percent foreign-owned.
The responses were similar when respondents were asked about ownership for cannabis production, distribution and retail sale.
Sixty-nine to 72 percent of people surveyed said if cannabis is legalized for any use, there should be a limit on the number of licenses granted for retail, distribution, cultivation and production of cannabis in The Bahamas.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that The Bahamas should enter into the medical cannabis production industry.
However, only 59 percent of people strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that the country should also enter into the adult recreational cannabis production industry, while 35 percent disagreed.
Of those surveyed, 78 percent said everyday cannabis-based products should be sold in stores legally, while 15 percent disagreed and seven percent were unsure.
As for a regularized hemp production industry, 69 percent of respondents agreed that this route should be taken, while 24 percent were against it.
Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis advised that the government is expected to table a bill in Parliament in the next few weeks that would regulate medicinal marijuana in The Bahamas.
Minnis signaled that the government only intends to move on medicinal marijuana and the expungement of records of individuals with small amounts of marijuana.
Among its initial 24 recommendations, the BNCM has advised the government to allow individuals prescribed medical cannabis to grow sufficient plants for their use; allow tourists who are prescribed medical cannabis in their countries to obtain it in The Bahamas; and allow the importation of regulated cannabis products for ailments.
Cannabis possession would be decriminalized up to one ounce 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.
The commission stopped short of recommending the legalization of recreational marijuana, insisting that the issue needs to be explored further before a consensus can be garnered.
Its final report is expected to be completed and turned over to the prime minister this month.