Leader of the Opposition Philip 'Brave' Davis. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By LEANDRA ROLLE
A DAY after the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s preliminary report was leaked, PLP Leader Phillip “Brave” Davis said there is still much work that needs to be done by the commission before the nation moves to decriminalise the drug.
He also noted that the country needs to take a “responsible approach” to the decriminalisation of marijuana. He also recommended that the government not put an age limit on who can access medical marijuana, adding this should be up to a doctor’s discretion.
“During my sojourn in the practice of law, I’ve seen the use of marijuana and what the dilatory effects it may have had on some and what good impact it would have had on others,” he told reporters during a press conference yesterday.
“We have to find that fine balance to ensure that the good that can come out of this does not eventually have the unintended consequence of overly burdening our inner-city youth.
“For example, being responsible, we cannot approach it in a way where young people who are still in high school (are using the drug) for example. I think reports are showing that children at the age of eight and in junior high school are using marijuana. That’s not something that we would want.
“So, the message has to be that we’re not too permissive of the use in young children. So, we have to look at age and look at age qualifications and these are some of the factors, so the work still has to be done.”
The draft marijuana report recommends the legalisation of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalisation for possession of up to one ounce of the drug.
“The allowable one ounce of marijuana may be subject to increase after a review of implementation. Recreational marijuana should be permitted for adults over 21 years and medicinal marijuana should be permitted for adults over 18 years of age,” the report said.
Other recommendations noted in the report includes a national educational campaign on the use of marijuana, the expungement of all police records regarding the possession of small amounts of cannabis and predominant Bahamian ownership in the Cannibas industry.
When contacted yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis stressed that the report was a draft, preliminary document.
Dr Minnis said once the final report is ready it will be presented to Cabinet then Parliament for all to see, adding that officials are investigating how it was leaked to the media.
However, speaking on the draft recommendations yesterday, Mr Davis commended the work conducted by BNCM, but noted that there are several aspects of the report that warrants further observation.
One such aspect, he said, includes the age limit for medicinal marijuana.
“I don’t think you have to put an age usage on the medicinal aspect of it because it is to cure ills and young people do have ailments that do require treatment. I think that ought to be left to the prescribing physician who is going to determine whether a young child should be treated with medicinal marijuana,” he told reporters.
Mr Davis also said the Bahamian people need to be educated on the far-reaching impacts of the drug.
The draft report found the public to “generally” have feelings that small amounts of marijuana should not result in jail time.
The Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP said: “I think we have to start off by educating our people as to the consequence of this use. We need to have sufficient studies and data to inform the policy positions that we take. I don’t think we should just adopt any approach or policy without their being sufficient scientific data and research and that ought to inform our policy going forwards.
“I think we leave that to the experts who are administering and taking under whose care a patient might be and who might require the use of medicinal marijuana.”