NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Despite turning over its preliminary report to the prime minister yesterday, the work of the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana is still ongoing.
Commission co-chairman Quinn McCartney said the team still has a national survey and additional travel to jurisdictions with marijuana legislation on its list.
“Part of our work and our mission is to codify the views of the Bahamian public, so we want to actually go there and have a scientific survey conducted,” said McCartney, during a press conference at the Office of The Prime Minister.
“We’ve gone door to door. We’ve spoken to people one-on-one; we’ve spoken to people at town hall meetings.
“So we want to actually go there and have a scientific [view], so that when we quote statistics and say a certain representative portion of the population said a particular thing, it will hopefully be reflective of the views of the majority of Bahamians.”
He continued: “So that’s why we want to commission a group of persons who are experts in his field to actually get the scientific survey for us.
“We are hoping to engage now that we’ve gotten past this stage. We wanted to engage them as early as next week.”
McCartney did not indicate who was commissioned to do the survey.
The commission’s preliminary report recommended that it be conducted by the Department of Statistics.
“We are trying to get it done as quickly as possible, certainly within the first quarter,” he added.
“We are hoping that everything should be wrapped up, they analyze the data and then they give us our findings that we would incorporate in the final report.”
Seventy-one percent of respondents who participated in a June 2018 Public Domain survey said they believed marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes.
In its preliminary report, leaked to the media last month, the BNCM recommended that marijuana be decriminalized and persons be allowed to have a maximum of one ounce of the substance in their possession without prosecution.
The commission also puts forth recommendations for medicinal, recreational and sacramental use of the substance and insisted that that Bahamians should own 51 percent of the industry in a legalized framework.
However, the commission’s Public Relations and Education Subcommittee recommended that the country hold off on regulating recreational use because “there is not enough known”.
Asked whether there were any fundamental differences between the report leaked and the one presented, McCartney said the latter, “is a much more fine-tuned report”.
He said their work will continue, as they are hoping to travel to Canada or Oakland California to review their legal framework.
McCartney noted that the commission will aim to wrap up all of its work by the first quarter of 2020.
Chiming in on the work of the commission thus far, co-chairman Bishop Simeon Hall noted that other jurisdictions have taken up to three and four years to get to a conclusion on the matter while they have done so in 14-months.
Asked whether he believes they were able to do justice to the process in that time, Hall said: “I think we did what we could do within the period of time, but it is ongoing.
“We leave room for other elements of his to be completed and then we go forth. We give the government a chance to look at it, they will make the final decision.”
He added the level of debate in The Bahamas over the matter must increase, given that it is a national issue that is going to impact our society for decades.