Nassau, Bahamas – Bills to introduce the regulatory framework for the cannabis industry, as well as decriminalize possession of small amounts of the substance, are expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year, Attorney General Ryan Bender said yesterday.
“This is the intent of the government in the context of preparing comprehensive legislation to regulate the cannabis industry,” Bender said.
In response to a question about whether the government plans to amend the Penal Code in addition to introducing new legislation, the Attorney General said: “It is new legislation and amendments to the Penal Code.”
When asked when bills could be prepared and presented in Parliament, Bender said: “Something is under review in the AG office at the moment – it is currently being advised on.”
“…It’s very preliminary in terms of what it’s going to look like, but certainly we’re in the review and drafting stage and we hope to be in a position to make recommendations to the Cabinet in the first quarter of 2022.”
In Our Blueprint for Change, the Progressive Liberal Party said it would develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for cannabis cultivation, harvesting and export so that “the industry creates opportunities for the many, not just the few.”
She said it would ensure “all Bahamians are given full access to development, and have a fair chance of becoming owners in this new industry.”
The Economic Recovery Commission has recommended the complete legalization of cannabis for medical, religious and recreational use with an appropriate and strict regime that oversees production, sale and export.
The party had expressed reservations about legalizing the substance for recreational use, a position shared by the previous administration.
Bender did not provide details of what the bill would entail, but said the government had prioritized the campaign promise.
The Minis administration planned to implement and regulate the cannabis industry using pharmaceuticals and a framework for import and export.
While previous drafts of the 2021 Medicinal Cannabis Bill have been leaked, providing a snapshot of what the system would look like in the Bahamas, the bill has not been brought before Parliament for debate.
In May, then-Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that a medical cannabis bill would be introduced and discussed in Parliament.
But this never happened.
At the end of May, Mennes said he did not know when the bill would be introduced as the government was amending the bill to protect against abuse.
When asked about the bill at Baha Mar in August, Menes said the Bahamas would be able to “smoke in time,” but did not provide a time frame.
An earlier version of the Medical Cannabis Act, 2021, provided for the creation of the Medical Cannabis Authority, which would establish policies and guidelines to regulate the medical cannabis industry and issue various licenses to Bahamian citizens 21 years of age or older.
The Bahamas Christian Council said that while it does not support the recreational or clandestine use of the plant due to its psychoactive effect, it has expressed support for medicinal use and the decriminalization of “small and simple possession”.
The national debate surrounding the cannabis sector has lost some momentum as the focus shifts Escalating cases of corona virus and deaths The Bahamas also underwent an increase in August and September.