Marijuana Move Could Take Years


Tribune Chief Reporter


THE Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana (BNCM) is expected to deliver its first draft to the government by April but any implementation concerning the “business of marijuana” could take years, rotarians were told yesterday.

Dr Bridgette Rolle, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, moved to temper expectations during a presentation by the commission at the luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau at East Villa.

Dr Rolle said: “I also want to make note that this would only be a first step in the process of this whole - as you put it - the business of marijuana. 

“You have to start with a white paper of sorts and then it’s going to be years I suspect before we see any kind of implementation that speaks to the economic issues surrounding cannabis.”

Dr Rolle, Southeast Nassau Club president, heads a three-member secretariat formed by the BNCM, which is reportedly comprised of 23 diverse and passionate “experts”.

Public consultation could start as early as next week in Abaco as the commission aims to complete its objectives for research and widespread stakeholder engagement over the next three months.

BNCM Co-Chairs Quinn McCartney and Bishop Simeon Hall yesterday outlined the commission’s objective and scope, defining the group’s mandate as “codifying the view of Bahamians on all things related to marijuana, and to make recommendations to the government of the Bahamas on positions related to the legal, social, medicinal and ceremonial (religious) issues as they relate to marijuana.”

Mr McCartney said co-chairs were tasked by Health Minister Dr Duane Sands to ensure consultation was widespread enough to allow for all views to be heard; and for the resulting policy position to be a “reflection of the truth, and not emotions”.

The former assistant commissioner of police said the BNCM may put forward recommendations for an implementation timeline but stressed the government had the final say on how the matter would progress beyond its report.

In order to meet its ambitious timeline, the commission plans to break into six subcommittees to conduct research on medicinal, recreational, and ceremonial use; legal/regulatory issues, including potential impact on criminal justice system; industry/economic implications; and education/public relations to help frame national dialogue.

Key stakeholders, who will participate in closed meetings with the commission, were yesterday identified as: members of the religious community, including Rastafarians; health care professionals and NGOs responsible for care like the Cancer Society; law enforcement; social services; judiciary and legal professionals; prisoners and youth held in juvenile detention; educators and sporting bodies.

Mr McCartney also noted the commission intends to hold a special forum for youth.

As for the wider public, the commission intends to launch a website, and maintain a presence on popular social media platforms with plans to conduct a “comprehensive and widespread” national survey.

Mr McCartney explained participants will be able to complete the survey online or in person, adding its methodology will be crafted to meet internationally accepted standards to produce reliable data.

He furthered the commission will seek out Public Domain President M’wale Rahming for a presentation on a commissioned survey published last year, which found overwhelming support for medical marijuana among Bahamian residents across demographics of age, gender and income.

Town meetings and other open forums will be held on several islands, with New Providence saved for last, Mr McCartney said.

“While the commission considers the CARICOM Commission’s report, and regional and international developments,” Mr McCartney said, “I wish to emphasise that our intent is to come to a position that is best suited for the Bahamas.

“We recognise that we are a small country, and that any recommendations that we make will have significant impact on this and future generations. After all things are considered, the national interest of the Bahamas will supersede any personal positions or beliefs any of us may have.”

For his part, Bishop Hall reiterated his interest in the plant’s regulation was pastoral, adding that he hoped national discourse could be respectful and civil like the forums he witnessed during his work as a member of the regional commission.

CARICOM’s Regional Marijuana Commission (RMC) presented its report on the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana in the region last year. When the body was formed in 2014, state-level consultations on the subject were also due to run concurrently.

Yesterday, Rotarian Reginald Saunders asked: “How do you ensure as a commission that the decisions made are free of special interest that may cloud the process or impede work of commission?”

Mr McCartney replied: “The role of the commission is just to make recommendations to the government. Final implementation of that report whether they accept or reject any of our recommendations will be dependent on the government, Cabinet in particular in the first instance.

“Our role is just to gather the information. Our doors will be open to accept the information and views of anyone who wishes to present before us and as a result of our consultations, our discussions, our deliberations, make recommendations. The final decision will be the government’s if it’s legalised, or we’re allowed to get into that industry: how its regulated, and how its managed, will be a decision of the government of the Bahamas.”

Rotarian Peter Bates said: “Marijuana, like anything else, needs to be thoroughly understood but people will abuse it no matter what. But right now it’s illegal and we have huge amounts of people being ruined by bad marijuana, bad use, unregulated use, and the stigmas associated with it.” 

He added: “So I would hope that the whole study of what happened before and after prohibition is studied and that we understand we can’t control the human race. We were given our freedom in the garden and some people don’t know what to do with it.”


TheMadHatter 1 month ago

Anything good for Bahamians always takes years. In fact, very often it takes forever. Many cases that i've measured personally, have taken forever. My watch battery gone dead.

Rest assured it will not take forever for VAT to hit 15%.


yeahyasee 1 month ago

Hatter just so you know I actually look forward to your comments LOL


TheMadHatter 1 month ago

I can only imagine that God is waiting nervously, hands shaking, biting His lip, to hear the verdict that this Commission hands down upon His creation.

However, in the end I'm sure He will be grateful to these wise souls for their counsel and guidance. Kinda like the brilliant people in the Middle East who remove the clitoris and a portion of the labia because they know Allah also made a grievous error.


hrysippus 1 month ago

Hey MadHater, your statement. " people in the Middle East who remove the clitoris and a portion of the labia " refers to the wrong continent and the wrong religion. Other than that you earn a D_. sigh.....


hrysippus 1 month ago

I stand corrected. My apologies for doubting you.


mandela 1 month ago

Yes and in the main time they will continue to lock up people for a joint, give them a record, hamper their ability to find work, leaving them to find work illegally and wreck havoc on society robbing and stealing, all while saying we're still doing a study ten years from now


BMW 1 month ago

Anything in this country takes years! Look how long we knew conch were overfished.


JackArawak 1 month ago

considering the usual level of efficiency in Bahamian government and the whole ease of doing business thing, plus the interference from the christian council, if they work as hard as possible on this issue it would be ten to 15 years. And then they'll put together a committee to see if there is any medicinal value. In the meantime, people will still be smoking like they have for decades and the government will continue to loose out on tax and "pot tourism"


DDK 1 month ago

Wonder why they did not have this lengthy roll-out for the economy-killing numbers houses to hit the streets? Buncha bozos! LEGALIZE IT!


B_I_D___ 1 month ago

Guvment dem need maximum time to figure out how exactly to make sure they get the MOST money for themselves out of this concept. Tax it and regulate it SO much that the poor person who may try to farm it, won't be able to turn a profit due to the weight of the taxation and burden of the bureaucratic bullship....


hrysippus 1 month ago

This delay reminds me of the song written by the late Ray Sawyer and recorded by Dr. hook and The Medicine Show called "I got stoned and I missed it", we are in danger of totally missing the proverbial boat with this one, again......


bogart 1 month ago

THE GUBBERMINT EXPERTS DOES HAVE A POINT IN STRETCHING OUT THE LEGSLIZATION.....while bout 12 US states done legalizes it.....GUBBERMINT EXPERTS NEEDS TO BE STENCHING ON LEGALIZATION because.....1. Plenty police will likely be out of work...driving cars to smell da smoke and go knocking on doors...2. Police will not be needed round many places to smell da smoke an find da culprit....3....Fewer police to do writing up locking up...4. Courts will have more time some staff might have to be let go ....5..Prison bus might be empty fewer trips so fewer convoy people some get let go....6. Fox Hill prison likely be half empty so staff gets laid off some cooks sent home....7. ..legalizing weed likely cause havoc in finding too few remaining cronies...family friends that aint already have gubbermint jobs to fill new set up bureaucracy to handle legal weed adminisyration.....8....Legalizing weed has to be stretched out to give....family friends cronies....time to create paperwork to create monopoly for a few..to benefit..likely surveys...analyses...discussions on da price of tea in China...string theory.....quantumwhatnots.....calculus...gapseed...Biblical quotations....9....longer it stretcjes out ensures continuous employment to some....10....legalizing weed too soon would prevent the experts from finding a way to turn the industry into a money losing entity ...continuously dependent on ....subventions....where some politician who is not an expert can get to budget for pore people taxes to bail it out....11...delays necessary to sort out select Crown lands for farming....


John 1 month ago

The legal and formal part in the change in legislation may take years but it doesn't mean that the country cannot start the process by informally relaxing the laws on marijuana and even decriminalizing the possession of small amounts. While I don't condone the abuse of any substance, including marijuana or alcohol, sometimes young people get more damage when they are caught with small amounts of 'weed' then get locked in a legal system that leads to other problems. This country went through an epidemic of substance abuse over the past 20 years or so. Fortunately, the bedis disappeared off the market, when they became too expensive compared to regular cigarettes, and cigarette smokers have also dropped to 14% worldwide. that's the lowest level in 25 years!


sheeprunner12 1 month ago

De-criminalizing marijuana can be done by Parliament in a matter of weeks/months .......... Stop locking up our people for a joint/3 ounces or a few trees for personal use ........ But do not legalize it like Europe Canada or some US states .......... Limited medical marijuana uses can also be facilitated legally.

It was reported recently that Canadians consumed $2 billion worth of marijuana in 3 months for 30 million people ........... Do we want to go down that road?????


DDK 1 month ago

Really. Near future decriminalization of small amounts for off-road recreational use is the ticket. Not so complicated a move. The only thing that would change is the ruination of lives for a minor thing. The only problem I see is legalizing the suppliers of 'acceptable' quantities of the weed. Perhaps that and medicinal use/supply should be a second phase.


SP 1 month ago

For such a small country there is a disproportionate number of assholes in prominent positions hampering progress, making detrimental life-changing decisions for the country!

Jackass does as jackass is.


Bonefishpete 1 month ago

You don't have years. Florida will have recreational Marijuana on the 2020 presidential ballot. Looking how close the governor's race was I suspect it will pass. Give the state a year to implement the rules and by 2021 legal weed. You don't have years to figure this out.


Dawes 1 month ago

Every time we discuss change it always takes years. It's not as though we are the only place in the world to be considering doing this and there are also no countries who have done it. As such the route to take is already laid out. But to follow them means not being able to have committee after committee in which all the connected people can sit on and get paid very handsomely for. It would be easier and cheaper if we just tell the committee members they will receive $1 million each at the end of the discussions, however this would decrease by $100,000 for each month they take. My guess is it would all be done by the weekend then.


SP 1 month ago

Lol...It'll be done before lunch!


BONEFISH 1 month ago

Somebody made this comment about the Bahamas on social media. Any progressive ideas take years to be implemented in the Bahamas.This is just a next example of that,


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