PM disturbed and upset by marijuana report leak

PM disturbed and upset by marijuana report leak
Prime Minister Minnis fields questions from media.(FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday said he was “disturbed” and “upset” by the leaking of the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s preliminary report.

Minnis also confirmed the commission has been transferred out of the remit of the Ministry of Health to the Office of the Prime Minister.

“I was very disturbed that the report had leaked out,” Minnis told reporters, during a short break at the Hurricane Dorian Private Sector Pledging Conference.

“I was very disturbed because it compromised my Cabinet colleagues and myself.

“The press made statements, they asked us questions. We could not respond because we didn’t see it.”

“We were not privy to any leaked document.

“We were waiting for the official document. We were compromised.

“So I was upset and I brought that commission into the Office of the Prime Minister where I can globally tie everything.

“They were just as upset as I was that the document uncompleted was leaked out, because they may have made amendments and whatever.”

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands opted not to comment on the matter.

The preliminary report, which was leaked to members of the media last month, features recommendations from various subcommittees on the medical, economic, religious and recreational use of cannabis in The Bahamas.

Several parts of the report have not yet been completed and remain under review by the commission.

The draft document recommends that marijuana be decriminalized and persons be allowed to have a maximum of one ounce of the substance in their possession without prosecution.

It also puts forth recommendations for medicinal, recreational and sacramental use of the substance.

Asked yesterday how soon his administration will seek to move legislation on the matter, given the preliminary results, Minnis said, “I haven’t seen the report yet.”

“Be assured that when the report is completed, the press will be there when the report is presented to the prime minister,” he continued.

“The report will subsequently be tabled in Parliament, at which time you will get a copy of the report, not this leaked out whatever it is.

“I don’t know what’s the content of what was leaked out. But you will have a copy of the official report and our official position will be known and we will do what is necessary.”

In July 2018, CARICOM’s Regional Commission on Marijuana put forward the view that in a regulated framework, marijuana should be treated similarly to tobacco and alcohol.

The commission presented its report to the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), after months of canvasing people in the region, including a town hall held in New Providence in January 2018.

When he returned from the CARICOM meeting, Minnis announced the government was establishing the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana to gauge public opinion on cannabis.

He has since confirmed his support of decriminalization in several interviews despite previously indicating he did want to force his personal views on the public.