NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The House of Rastafari (HOR) yesterday called on the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) to join the fight to help people with criminal records for minor charges of marijuana possession.
The Christian Council has expressed staunch opposition to marijuana reform and the potential introduction of a hemp industry.
On Monday, the BCC president Bishop Delton Fernander said the council is concerned that the government may be “experiencing a nudge by individuals or groups with a special interest in marijuana be they economic or otherwise”.
He added the prime minister has not mentioned, invited, or sought to date any consultation with the Bahamas Christian Council or the church within the country on these matters.
In a statement responding to the comments, Copeland “Ras Amen” Smith, Royal Ambassador of HOR said marijuana reform has the ability to “reduce crime, save lives, boost the economy via the establishment or liberation of an industry”.
“An Industry that has the potential to heal you, clothe you, and feed you.”
Smith underscored reform should not be discussed in a vacuum and should be looked at when discussing food security, health, financial services, and crime.
He argued that despite opposition by the BCC over marijuana’s psychological effects, even top scientists are divided in their conclusions on marijuana inducing psychosis.
The commission’s preliminary report was leaked to the media in January and later tabled in Parliament in early February.
Among its 24 recommendations, the BNCM has advised the government to allow individuals 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 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.
The Economic Recovery Committee has recommended in the executive summary of its report that a dual format of reform should be implemented, which would see the legalization of religious and medical marijuana and the decriminalization of small amounts.