Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands says he finds it “surprising” the tongues of the Official Opposition are suddenly unfettered to advocate for the decriminalisation of recreational marijuana.
This push, he said, was simply political pandering.
On Wednesday, Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis confirmed his support for a change in law to treat recreational use of the drug as society now does alcohol.
He also said he would back the immediate expunction of the records of those who have been convicted of possessing small amounts of the drug.
The Cat Island, Rum Cay and Salvador MP’s comments came a week after PLP deputy leader Chester Cooper delivered a passionate speech in the House of Assembly where he expressed his own support of decriminalising small amounts of recreational marijuana and also called on the government to expunge the records of people convicted of possession of small amounts of the drug. “Let me be very clear that I am a Cabinet minister and as such I have to be very cautious that my statements are consistent with the position of the government of the Bahamas,” Dr Sands told The Tribune yesterday.
“We have decided that we would review the CARICOM document, that we would then empanel the marijuana commission and we would allow them to do their work. Then based on their recommendations and findings that we would consider the national position inclusive of the Dangerous Drugs Act to determine whether or not we would change The Bahamas’ position on medicinal and or recreational use of marijuana. Having outlined that position it would be inappropriate and premature for me to suggest that any of those things are foregone conclusions. We have agreed a process. That process I believe has an ideal methodology it is consultative.”
He continued: “The opposition has an official member on the marijuana commission and they are able to opine and make recommendations to that commission. So, I find it surprising now that both the leader and the deputy leader of the Progressive Liberal Party have suddenly had their tongues unfettered [and] loosed to speak so eloquently on a matter that they were silent on for five years in government.”
Dr Sands said he didn’t believe the PLP was concerned about due process.
The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana (BNCM) was expected to submit its first draft on Bahamian attitudes on the controversial plant— the first step in a larger debate on the prohibition of medical and recreational use, last month.
However, the commission has been granted a three-month extension, Dr Sands confirmed.