NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As he tabled the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s (BNCM) preliminary report in Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Minnis announced that among the commission’s recommendations is a medicinal marijuana industry accessible by tourists.
After months of gauging public opinion on all things related to cannabis, and a national survey still left to be completed, the commission has recommended that the substance be decriminalized, and regulated for medicinal and religious use.
The commission however stopped short at recommending the legalization of recreational use, noting that more data must be explore before taking this position.
“My government pledged openness with the marijuana reform process,” Minnis said.
“Today in fulfillment of that pledge I am tabling the final preliminary report for all to see.
“The final report is expected to be released following a national survey, which the commission is currently working on.
“This survey will codify and present an analysis of the views of the Bahamian people.
“There are those in public life who like to talk plenty, but who are not good at follow through and action.
“My government will use this report to assist with changing our marijuana laws.”
The prime minister once again echoed his support for marijuana reform, including expunging the records of Bahamian convicted of possession of small amounts and the release from prison of any person who may be solely incarcerated for possessing small amounts.
“The marijuana reforms my government will deliver will work in parallel with our broader effort to change how we treat people with criminal convictions,” he said.
“Our criminal justice system should not just be about punishment.
“There must be fairness, rehabilitation, and mercy too.”
Among its 24 recommendations, the commission has 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.
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.
The report also recommended that the cannabis industry be Bahamian-owned with Bahamian ownership being at least 51 percent and foreign companies partnering holding up to 49 percent equity in the company.
Minnis assured yesterday that a nationwide comprehensive public education program will be carried out before laws are changed, and that program will be age-appropriate to target all segments of society.
“These proposed reforms are some of the most far-reaching in an independent Bahamas,” he added
“My government is committed to reforming our marijuana laws and to clearing the records of those who seek to do better.”