By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is accusing the Opposition party of being “late” and the Minnis Administration of being “slow” regarding the issue of marijuana decriminalisation.
DNA vice-chairman Jayson Braynen released a statement on Thursday reiterating the DNA was the first party to “indicate support” for marijuana legislation reform.
Mr Braynen said this was done in June 2016, when he, on behalf of the DNA’s Young Democrats organisation, announced the DNA had “accepted the recommendation of its youth branch to add the decriminalisation of marijuana to the DNA’s 2017 election platform”.
He also said the current government has been “slow to address changing sentiments” regarding the drug.
On Wednesday, Opposition and Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip "Brave" Davis confirmed his support for recreational marijuana decriminalisation as well as the immediate expunction of the records of those who have been convicted of possessing small amounts of the drug.
Mr Davis’ comments came a week after PLP deputy leader Chester Cooper made a similar call during a contribution in the House of Assembly.
Referencing both these remarks, Mr Braynen said: “It appears the leaders of the establishment are tripping over themselves to adopt progressive positions on the legal status of marijuana, but where were they just a few years ago on the campaign trail?”
“More puzzling still, where was the PLP’s urgency when they were at the helm of leadership? Time and time again, opposition parties prove that they will change their tune just enough to get elected, but not enough to follow through on what they promised.”
“Any steps the PLP and FNM have taken to address the regulation of marijuana in our law books can be summarised by the phrase ‘too little, too late’.”
Mr Braynen also cited the steps made by regional counterparts such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago towards decriminalisation of the drug.
“Contrast the diligence of these nations with the news coming from our own, where the report from the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, which is funded by the government, has just been announced to be delayed by at least another three months,” Mr Braynen added.
He also criticised Health Minister Dr Duane Sands’ “reluctance” to “move with purpose” on the matter.
In July 2018, Mr Davis issued a statement saying his party sympathises with those who have been affected by the country’s anti-drug laws. He also said the PLP is proposing the appointment of a review panel to make recommendations on the issue.
That same month, a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) committee released a report calling for the end of marijuana prohibition in the region.
Also last year, Public Domain released a poll which said 71 per cent of 998 Bahamian residents surveyed believed marijuana should be legalised for medicinal purposes, and all respondents ranked marijuana as the least harmful substance by comparison to tobacco, alcohol, and sugar, across the board.
The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana (BNCM) was also formed to “codify” Bahamians’ view on “all things related to marijuana” and make recommendations to the government on all positions concerning the drug.
The group has yet to report on its findings.